There is only one day to go until the Spring Festival of the Year of the Dog, falling on Jan. 29. Where the Chinese leaders will go during this year's Lunar New Year remains uncertain, but one fact is clear: from the movements of state leaders during the Spring Festivals of the past 25 years, people can tell the trends of China's policies and what the leaders think of the most.
Looking back to the traditional Spring Festival of 1980, the then state leader Deng Xiaoping, together with Li Xiannian and others, attended a grand Evening Party during the Festival. This important reemergence of Deng Xiaoping to general public after the decade-long turmoil (1966-76) hinted at an optimistic start to the national efforts to reform and open China to the outside world.
In the ensuing couple of years, four economic special zones, namely Shenzhen, Shantou, Zhuhai and Xiamen in south China's Guangdong and Fujian provinces, were established and became the windows of the country opening up to the world. A contract system with remuneration linked to output was pushed forward in rural areas during the time, so that farmers' enthusiasm to produce was ignited. From then on, prosperous scenarios have emerged in the domestic economy.
During the Spring Festival of 1983, Deng Xiaoping attended an Evening Party in Hangzhou City of eastern Zhejiang Province and made a work tour to local agricultural products markets.
In 1984, Deng spent the Spring Festival in Guangdong Province, south China, amid the intensive social arguments on the reform and opening-up policies, as some problems had been surfaced by rapid economic development in the south.
After an inspection trip in Guangdong, Deng ended the social arguments by writing down his point of view. "The growth of the Shenzhen special zone has proved the accuracy of our policy of building economic special zones".
In 1985, Deng went to Guangdong Province again, a gesture indicating his resolve to further the market-oriented economic reform.
From 1988, Deng went to east China's Shanghai Municipality to spend the Spring Festival for seven straight years, as he began considering how to revitalize the "Oriental Pearl" - Shanghai, formerly the most prosperous city of the country. In 1990, the State Council approved the establishment of the Shanghai Pudong Waigaoqiao free trade zone.
Deng also asked the then mayor of Shanghai Zhu Rongji to make strenuous efforts to develop Shanghai, as the development of the city was lagging behind, during the Spring Festival of 1991.
The Lunar New Year of 1990 was the first Spring Festival that Jiang Zemin assumed the post of the General Secretary of the of the CPC Central Committee. He, together with the then Premier Li Peng, braved the chilly weather visiting coal miners and farmer peasants in the disaster-stricken areas in north China's Shanxi Province.
Going down mine shafts, visiting factories and disaster-ridden areas during the Spring Festival, Jiang set an example for all Party members to enhance the relationship between Party members and ordinary people amid the reform and opening-up drive.
During Jan. 17 to Feb. 20, 1992, Deng Xiaoping made a landmark trip to south China, during which, Deng hammered out an important speech, further nailing down the orientation of China's economic reform. He also made a strategic deployment for the development of Shanghai, laying a foundation for the second leap forward of the country's reform and opening-up drive.
On the New Year's Eve of 1992, Jiang Zemin visited soldiers of the stationed troops of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Beijing, while Premier Li Peng visited and spent the Spring Festival in Portugal.
During the Lunar New Year of 1993, Jiang Zemin went to the outskirts of Beijing to extend the New Year's greetings to farmers. In a farmer's home, he poured a cup of wine for elders and gave toy roosters to children, while in Shanghai, the retired Deng Xiaoping underscored that "facts had proven that the leadership group of the CPC Central Group with Jiang Zemin at the core worked well and deserved to be trusted."
During the Lunar New Year of 2000, Jiang Zemin elaborated his important thought of "Three Represents" for the first time when meeting with more than 600 village officials in Gaozhou city, Guangdong Province.
The important thought of "Three Represents", described as "the CPC represents the development requirements of China's advanced social productive forces, the progressive course of China's advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the majority of the Chinese people", was finally enshrined into the Constitution in 2004.
The Spring Festival of 2003 saw the General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Hu Jintao visiting telecommunications, power supply and public security departments in Beijing and passed on New Year's greetings to the work staff there.
During the Lunar New Year of 2004, Hu Jintao visited farmers in Xishungou Village, Zhangbei County, Hebei Province and made dumplings together with farmers, while Premier Wen Jiabao visited local needy residents in Zhengzhou city of central Henan Province.
During the Spring Festival of 2005, President Hu Jintao came to Nahui Village in Guizhou Province, inhabited by people of the Buyi and Miao ethnic groups to send New Year's greetings. He made glutinous rice cakes with farmers and presented a TV set to a farmer.
Premier Wen Jiabao spent the Lunar New Year Eve of 2005 by calling on AIDS patients in villages in Shangcai County of Henan Province, which was worst hit by the deadly epidemic. Wen had his Spring Festival Eve dinner at "Sunny Homestead," a home for both elders and orphans who lost families to AIDS.
Footprints of Chinese leaders during the traditional Spring Festivals of the past 25 years have pictured a government wholeheartedly and earnestly working for the people.