President Xi Jinping visits the cave dwelling he lived in as an "educated youth" during a trip to Liangjiahe Village, Shaanxi Province in northwest China, on February 13, 2015 (XINHUA)
Xi Jinping has expressed his deep feelings for the people on many occasions, saying for example, "How important the people are in the minds of an official will determine how important officials are in the minds of the people." His love of the people stems from his unique upbringing.
A son of Xi Zhongxun, a Communist revolutionary and former vice premier, Xi Jinping did not live in comfort as a boy.
Beginning in 1962, when his father was wronged and fell into disgrace, Xi experienced tough times. During the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976), he suffered public humiliation and hunger, experienced homelessness and was even held in custody once.
At the age of 16, he volunteered to live in a small village in northwest China's Shaanxi Province as an "educated youth."
That area, part of the Loess Plateau, was where the Communist revolutionaries, including his father, rose to found New China.
Life there was tough for an urban youth. In the beginning, fleas troubled him so badly he could not even fall asleep. In the Shaanxi countryside, he had to do all sorts of harsh labor, such as carrying manure, hauling a coal cart, farming and building water tanks.
As time passed, tough work became easy. Xi became a hardworking capable young man in the villagers' eyes. By gaining their trust, he was elected village Party chief.
He led the farmers to reinforce the river bank in a bid to prevent erosion, organized a small cooperative of blacksmiths in the village, and built a methane tank, the first in landlocked Shaanxi.
He was once awarded a motorized tricycle after being named a "model educated youth." However, he exchanged the tricycle for a walking tractor, a flour milling machine and farm tools to benefit the villagers.
Although he was not in school, Xi never stopped reading. He brought a case of books to the village and was always "reading books as thick as bricks," recalled villagers of Liangjiahe.
He formed close ties with the villagers during his seven years in the province. After he was recommended for enrollment at Tsinghua University in 1975, all the villagers queued to bid him farewell and a dozen young men walked more than 30 kilometers to take him to the county seat for his trip back to Beijing.
Xi has never forgotten the folks in the Shaanxi village. Even after he left, he helped the village get access to power, build a bridge and renovate a primary school. When he was Party chief of Fuzhou City, he returned to the village, going door by door to visit people. He gave senior villagers pocket money, and schoolchildren new schoolbags, school supplies and alarm clocks. When a farmer friend got sick, Xi, then a senior provincial official of Fujian, at his own expense, brought him to Fujian for better medical treatment.
Years of toiling alongside villagers allowed him to get to know the countryside and farmers well. Xi has said that the two groups of people who have given him the greatest help in his life are the older revolutionary generation and the folks in the Shaanxi village where he lived.
He arrived in the village as a slightly lost teenager and left as a 22-year-old man determined to do something for the people.
(Source: Xinhua News Agency)