Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Sunday, March 02, 2003

China's New Rich Learn from Lei Feng

After his dream of making his fortune came true, Cui Yuxiang, a farmer-turned-businessman in Yingkou city, northeast China's Liaoning Province, has done more and more to help the needy.


After his dream of making his fortune came true, Cui Yuxiang, a farmer-turned-businessman in Yingkou city, northeast China's Liaoning Province, has done more and more to help the needy.

He has donated over 700,000 yuan (84,300 US dollars) over the past six years to public welfare projects in the city and to help the poor people around him.

Cui and his wife are also taking special care of 24 childless senior citizens and a group of orphans, none of whom is a blood relation.

Cui says he did all this out of love and respect for Lei Feng, an exemplary soldier who devoted his life to serving the public and helping the needy.

"I want to learn from him. In fact, I wish I could be elected an exemplary follower of Lei Feng this year," said the private business owner whose capital amounts to several million US dollars.

According to an official with the Yingkou municipal government, the new rich will make up at least a half of the city's "Exemplary Followers of Lei Feng" this year.

The honor is granted every year to encourage citizens to carry forward Lei Feng's strong sense of responsibility and love for others in Yingkou city, Cui's birthplace, where Lei Feng served as a soldier with the People's Liberation Army in the 1950s and 1960s.

Born in the central Hunan Province in 1940, Lei had a miserable childhood before the Chinese Communist Party takeover in 1949. To express his love and gratitude for the People's Republic, he devoted himself to his work at the PLA and spent all his spare time and money helping others.

Lei died in 1962 at the age of 22, after being hit on the head by a wooden column accidentally knocked over by a fellow soldier.

In March 1963, China's late leader Mao Zedong called on the whole nation to learn from him, and Lei Feng has since become the nation's most famous symbol of sacrifice for others.

Encouraged by the Lei Feng spirit, many people do voluntary work, help the needy by donating money, body organs and blood, or apply to work in poverty-stricken western areas.

Many private business owners, known as the new-rich class in China, have also moved in recent years to help those in poverty inresponse to the government's call to promote common prosperity.

Liu Xinsheng, a 41-year-old business owner in Benxi city, Liaoning Province, has donated several million yuan to six primary schools in the province.

Starting from this year, Liu says he will donate 150,000 yuan (18,072 US dollars) annually to help school dropouts in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

Last year, Zhang Zhiting, president of a pharmaceutical plant based in the southwestern Guizhou Province, donated 120 million yuan worth of medicine to tuberculosis-risk areas in western Chinaand Africa.

Most entrepreneurs say helping others does not hinder their business development. On the contrary, a good reputation brings immense business opportunities.

Liu Yinghua, who was honored as an Exemplary Follower of Lei Feng last year, runs a 1,000-square-meter restaurant in Yingkou. She has offered jobs to numerous laid-off workers and helped many school dropouts over the past two decades.

"Our reputation has drawn crowds of diners, bringing a considerable economic return," she says frankly.

Cui Yuxiang, the businessman in Yingkou, also says the essence of Lei Feng spirit has become an important part of corporate culture and improved the business image among customers.

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