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BEIJING, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) — In what has become an annual tradition, President Xi Jinping has extended festive greetings to all Chinese people during conversations with ordinary people ahead of the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan. 22 this year.
“I especially care about grassroots officials and members of the public as we ring in the new year,” said Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, after making video calls with people at various locations across the country on Wednesday.
On the other end of the video link were medical workers at a hospital, senior citizens in a welfare home, workers on an outlying oilfield, travelers and staff members at a high-speed railway station, vendors and customers at a wholesale market, and people in an ethnic minority village.
Chinese New Year is an occasion for family reunions, which sees people travel across the country — some even from abroad — to celebrate with their families and friends. After three years of fight against COVID-19, this year’s festival is of particular significance for many.
Over the past decade, Xi has spent time with ordinary people ahead of this important festival. Sometimes he would help them with festive preparations, such as making dumplings, a must-have dish for many families on their banquet tables on the eve of the new year.
Four years ago, Zhu Maojin’s family welcomed Xi into their home to make dumplings during his visit to the hutong neighborhoods of central Beijing. As Xi helped to fill and form the dumplings, he asked Zhu’s family about their living conditions. Thanks to a government-funded renovation project, the family’s access to running water, electricity, gas and heating had greatly improved.
“He is easy-going and chatted with us just like a family member,” Zhu said.
Around this time of year, people in another part of the country are busy making a different festive snack known as “ciba,” a glutinous rice cake. In 2016, Xi visited Shenshan Village in Jiangxi Province and joined the villagers in making ciba, quipping that pounding the snack with a mallet was a good workout.
Xi has also trekked to some of the country’s most remote areas on his pre-Chinese New Year inspection tour. In 2014, braving the cold of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the north, Xi visited the home of a forestry worker to learn about his difficulties. In 2018, after venturing deep into the mountains of Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, Xi said: “Not a single ethnic group or family should be left behind in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.” In 2020, Xi went to Simola Wa Village in Yunnan Province and joined locals in beating a wooden drum of the Wa ethnic group, a local ritual activity to bless the coming year.
Poor families and those who have encountered difficulties are always in Xi’s thoughts, and he has taken this time of year to reach out and meet with them. In 2013, when visiting underprivileged villagers in Yuangudui Village, Gansu Province, Xi delivered New Year essentials like cooking oil and pork to them, and stationery for students.
On another occasion, Xi visited the home of an impoverished villager in Hebei Province in 2017 and helped him sort out his household budget. In conversations with village officials and residents, Xi said that poverty eradication is the “bottom-line task” in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
By 2020, all of the country’s nearly 100 million rural residents living below the poverty line had shaken off poverty thanks to an eight-year anti-poverty campaign led by Xi, and all 832 poor counties had been lifted out of poverty.
In October 2021, north China’s Shanxi Province was hit by heavy flooding, leaving millions of people’s lives affected. Xi visited one of the most hard-hit villages, Fengnanyuan, a few days before the Spring Festival. Shi Hongbing invited Xi into his new house, which had been rebuilt with government subsidy and other assistance distributed after the floods.
“I came to Shanxi primarily out of the concern for people whose work and lives were affected by last year’s disaster,” Xi told the villagers.
Such concern about people’s lives is rooted in the seven years he spent in Liangjiahe Village, in Shaanxi Province, in the 1970s. Xi said his experience in the small village gave him insight into the true meaning of the word “people” and strengthened his resolve to “serve the people.”
After becoming the general secretary in 2012, Xi said: “The people’s aspiration for a better life is what we are striving for.” ■