Xi's domestic footprints signal governance priority

2015-09-29 10:57Xinhua Editor: Mo Hong'e

For the small, impoverished county of Fuping in north China's Hebei Province, an inspection tour by Xi Jinping's in late 2012 was a fate changer.

"He came into my house, sat down and didn't seem to care if the place was dirty and all," 70-year-old farmer Tang Zongxiu from Luotuozhuang village under Fuping recalls of the winter visit nearly three years ago.

Xi, then newly elected general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, brought cooking oil, flour, quilts and coats to families in the village. "He knew life here is difficult... and he would not let us suffer," Tang said, adding that the Chinese leader had brought not only relief, but also belief.

Only about three hour's drive from Beijing, Fuping has been on the list of a national poverty alleviation plan since 1994. Even today, nearly half of the county's 230,000 people were living on less than one dollar each day.

Xi's 2012 visit, however, kindled hope that the county might make its way off that list before long, as an influx of funds has followed the Chinese leader's visit.

Roughly 300 million yuan was poured into Fuping county's poverty alleviation work in 2013. The figure was 1.5 times as much as Fuping had received in the previous two decades.

The investment seemed to be working the spell. The annual net income of farmers in the county, though still less than half of China's national average, saw a year-on-year jump of 20 percent in 2013.

But Fuping was not the sole beneficiary of Xi's 2012 trip to Hebei.

A document co-issued by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council at the end of that year vowed to level up poverty alleviation funds across the country in a bid to revitalize its rural regions. The central government then allocated 39 billion yuan for poverty alleviation in 2013, up 18.9 percent year on year. In 2014, the figure was raised by another 10 percent to 43.3 billion.

Nor was poverty reduction the only theme of Xi's 20-odd visits that took him across the country to inspect work on deepening reforms and improving people's lives.


Xi's first trip outside Beijing as the top CPC leader was to Guangdong, the forefront of China's decades-long reform and opening up drive, to "conduct an on-site retrospection of the history of reform and opening up and declare the resolve to continue to push forward the policy."

The trip followed the footprints of a landmark tour 20 years ago by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, whose visit in 1992 to Guangdong ushered in an era of breakneck economic reform and growth.

Many interpreted the move as a strong sign to continue the country's reform and opening-up drive.

"... (we) will unswervingly push forward reform and opening up and strive to achieve new progress, new breakthroughs and new steps in boosting reform and opening up and the country's modernization drive," Xi said after laying a basket of flowers in front of Deng's statue in Lianhuashan Park in Shenzhen.

Liu Ruopeng, head of the Shenzhen-based private-owned Kuang-Chi Institute of Advanced Technology, said to this day he can still feel Xi's enthusiasm and determination while speaking of the word "reform" during that trip.

"His passion and resolve in reform was really a source of confidence for our startup," Liu said.

Although reform is hardly a new word in the CPC's official discourse, seldom has the word carried so much weight as it has in the recent years.

China has been pushing its comprehensive reform into high gear since 2013 when the government unveiled a 60-point reform blueprint after the third plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee.

Some of the reforms included transforming government functions, streamlining the administrative system, and strengthening the rule of law.

"Reforms are always in the present tense, not the past tense," Xi said in Shandong Province in 2013, just days after the CPC Central Committee's third plenum meeting.

He went on to add extra urgency to the reform drive in July this year, saying "it is unacceptable to miss reform opportunities or delay its progress by waiting and looking on."

"All this is proof that China will continue on the path of reforms and opening up," said Wang Yukai, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance.

"The drive to comprehensively deepen reforms initiated by the new Chinese leadership will for sure serve to gather momentum for the country's sustained development, and lend force to the realization of the Chinese dream," he said.


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