China, a people’s republic for the people


The snow blanketing mountains in north China’s Shanxi Province has added even more festive spirit to a small village called Fengnanyuan. Red lanterns have been hung in front of villager Shi Hongbing’s new house, decorated with door couplets and other auspicious ornaments.

These were what greeted a special guest of Shi — President Xi Jinping — just days ago.

No matter how busy Xi is, he always finds time to be with people in the countryside, especially before the Spring Festival, or the Lunar New Year. Falling on Feb. 1 this year, the festival is the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar and it is a time that is traditionally spent in the company of family.

Xi is a leader with roots in the countryside and has worked his way from a village official to the country’s top post. He is thus widely considered a people’s leader who always puts the interests of the people above all else.

On Sunday, addressing a reception in Beijing to ring in the Year of the Tiger, Xi once again stressed “holding people close to the heart.”

“The greatest happiness is to strive for the happiness of the people,” he said.

Decade-long tradition

For 10 consecutive years, Xi, as general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, has made it a tradition to spend time with ordinary people during this festive season.

These trips have taken him throughout the vast country, from a border town in the north to a poverty-stricken ethnic minority village in the southwest.

He often brings festival gifts to locals, observes festive traditions such as food preparation, and chats with people about their daily lives.

“As we greet the new year, there is one thing that remains most dear to my heart. That is my fellow citizens who still live in hardship,” Xi once said. “I’m seriously concerned about them and wonder how their food supplies and accommodations are being maintained, and how they are celebrating the Spring Festival.”

During this year’s trip to Shanxi, Xi braved the snow to visit people affected by autumn floods and learned about post-disaster reconstruction, crop replanting, and measures to keep villagers warm in the winter.

When he sat down with Shi’s family, whose old dwelling collapsed in the floods, Xi asked them how they felt about living in their rebuilt house and whether they were able to get enough goods for the Lunar New Year.

“He cares deeply about our daily lives,” Shi said.

Every time Xi visits people in their homes, he asks about what difficulties they still have. He even goes into details in rural life such as the access to clean toilets and the shower. He also offers advice on household waste sorting, and shows concern for students with poor eyesight.

“I remember everything they have to share with me,” Xi said.

People-centered philosophy

Xi’s Spring Festival visits reflect his people-centered philosophy for development.

He once said, “To put it simply, my governance philosophy is to serve the people and shoulder my due responsibilities.”

This can be traced back to a time when Xi spent seven years as an adolescent and young adult living and working in a remote village on the Loess Plateau. Xi has said that he understands the hardships of the people because he once lived in an impoverished corner of the country.

This people-first philosophy has been put into action throughout Xi’s political career. Back in 2012, when Xi was elected to the Party’s top post, there were nearly 100 million Chinese people living under the poverty line. Helping these people live better lives became a priority for him.

A monumental anti-poverty campaign has since been launched on a scale unseen elsewhere in the world. Over the following eight years, China’s remaining impoverished residents were all lifted out of poverty.

This marked the country’s successful elimination of absolute poverty, a scourge that had plagued the Chinese people for millennia.

Bearing the people in mind, Xi led them in realizing the first centenary goal of “building a moderately prosperous society in all respects,” honoring the Party’s promise to the people.

Xi’s people-centered philosophy also explains why he ordered unwavering efforts to save lives at all costs during China’s fight against COVID-19, said Liu Jingbei, a professor at the China Executive Leadership Academy in Pudong, Shanghai.

The all-out efforts enabled China to lead the world in containing the spread of the virus, restarting work and production, and resuming economic and social development.

The people-centered philosophy is a fine Party tradition. Since its founding in 1921, the CPC has pursued happiness for the people as its mission and considered its close ties with the people as its greatest political strength.

“Putting the people first” was listed as one of the 10 “secrets” behind the Party’s success when the CPC reviewed its century-long history last year.

“The Party has in the people its roots, its lifeblood, and its source of strength,” Xi said while addressing a ceremony marking the Party’s centenary in July 2021.

Modernization for 1.4 billion people

Upon winning its national fight against poverty and realizing its first centenary goal, China has now embarked on a new journey of building a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful.

It is the largest modernization drive in the history of humanity.

In contrast to the polarization of rich and poor in some capitalist countries, China’s path to modernization features common prosperity that ensures the outcomes of development are shared by all and allows no one to be left behind.

The pursuit of common prosperity is one of the issues that Xi has given much thought to over the past year.

“To achieve common prosperity, we must first make the ‘cake’ bigger and better through the joint efforts of the people, and then divide it in a fair way through reasonable institutional arrangements,” Xi said at a conference that set the tone for China’s economic development in 2022.

The CPC has delivered on its promise to leave no one behind in the fight against poverty, and it will also honor its word on the path to modernization.

“As long as the 1.4 billion Chinese people stay united, and the 95 million CPC members stay close to the people in pursuit of a shared future, we will surely be able to continue creating miracles on our new journey ahead,” Xi said.


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