Rural official Pan Kegang said what General Secretary Xi Jinping said at his village two years ago has been a motto to remind him to work for the people. [Special Coverage]
Whether the Party's policy is good or not depends on whether it makes the people smile or cry, Xi said during an inspection tour of the impoverished village of Huamao in Guizhou province in June 2015.
Pan, a delegate to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, recalled the words when Xi attended a panel discussion with Guizhou delegates on Thursday as part of the congress.
Pan, presenting Xi with a photo showing the enormous changes taking place in the once-poor village, said, "We will work harder to give people more smiles."
This people-centered philosophy is an important part of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era unveiled at the congress.
In the report delivered at the opening session on Wednesday, Xi urged all Party members to "always breathe the same breath as the people, share the same future and stay truly connected to them".
Xi reiterated the pledge that he made five years ago when he assumed the post of general secretary of the 18th CPC Central Committee in November 2012. "The aspirations of the people to live a better life must always be the focus of our efforts," Xi said.
Yu Liufen, Party secretary of the village of Yanbo in Liupanshui, Guizhou, said that she had noticed that Xi mentioned the word "people" 203 times in his three-and-a-half-hour report.
"It reflects the deep feelings and tight bond that General Secretary Xi has with the people," she said, adding that poverty-reduction measures have greatly improved the people's livelihoods in remote mountainous villages.
When she traveled to Beijing to attend the Party's 17th National Congress 10 years ago, it took her four days to get from her village to Beijing via the provincial capital Guiyang. But now, it takes her only 45 minutes from her home to reach the nearest high-speed railway station. Then, she can get to Beijing in only eight hours on the fast train, she said.
Xi has attached great importance to poverty reduction and made a solemn promise to eliminate the country's poverty in 2020 to achieve the Party's goal of building a moderately prosperous society. The ongoing congress has reaffirmed the target.
At the end of last year, China had 43 million impoverished people living in rural areas, after 55 million people were lifted above the poverty line between 2012 and 2016.
"What I care most about is the people living in difficulties," Xi said in his 2017 New Year's address.
During a panel discussion with lawmakers from Sichuan province in March, Xi said his heart was broken when he heard several years ago that some students in Liangshan prefecture had to climb cliffs without any safety equipment on their way to school.
He said he felt some relief learning that the local government has taken measures such as installing a steel ladder to help the students.
In late 2012, immediately after becoming general secretary, he visited a poor village in Hebei province and presented villagers with relief materials such as cooking oil, quilts and winter coats.
Xi did not just talk with the poor families but always took a look at the pans in their kitchens and what kind of food they ate every day. He also asked about their income, their expenses and whether they could afford medical costs with health insurance.
In June, during his inspection tour of Kelan county, Shanxi province, Xi visited families in poverty-stricken villages, talking with them about the causes of their poverty and how to increase their incomes. He also went to the fields to inspect how their crops were growing.
When he was deputy Party chief of coastal Fujian province in 1997, Xi made a trip to the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, where he expressed deep concern about the living conditions of the poor people. Fujian was designated by the central government to assist the development of poverty-stricken Ningxia at the time.
In July 2016, Xi revisited Ningxia and called for no one to be left behind regardless of geography or ethnic group as the nation strives to comprehensively build a moderately prosperous society by 2020.
Hai Guobao, a villager in the township of Minning in Ningxia, recalled that Xi went into his kitchen to check his access to water and to lift a pot lid to see what they were having for dinner. Xi also checked on whether Hai's kang, a traditional brick bed that can be heated from the bottom, worked well.
Qu Xiaoli, a delegate to the 19th National Congress and also Party secretary of Hong¬qiao district in Tianjin, said that Xi's report, reflecting deep feelings for the people, has expanded the close link between the Party and the people.
"We will follow the guidelines of the report of the congress and make efforts to meet the people's demands in such areas as education, health and culture," she said.
Tao Wenzhao, a professor of politics at Renmin University of China, said Xi's deep feeling toward the people originates from his personal experiences. Xi lived in a poor village in Yan'an, Shaanxi province, from 1969 to 1975. He led the villagers in digging wells, building dams and setting up the province's first methane-generation pit.
From 1982 to 1985, he served first as deputy secretary and then as secretary of the CPC Zhengding county committee in Hebei province. At the time, he worked to diversify the economy of the agricultural county, helping farmers increase their incomes.
"The president's true feelings toward the people come from his long bond with the people, and it's the tradition of the Communist Party of China to forge close links with the grassroots," said Tao, the professor.