Daqing Oilfield, the cradle of China's so-called "Iron Man Spirit" which inspired Chinese to work beyond their physical limits for the socialist construction of the 1960s, has been again put front and center in a nationwide campaign for harmonious and sustainable growth.
"The development of Daqing was crucial to China's energy security, the stamina of national economy and rejuvenation of the old industrial base of northeast China," said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday while inspecting the 46-year-old oil field in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
To eliminate a nationwide oil shortage, China mobilized 40,000 workers and technicians and seconded 70,000 tons of equipment from 30 factories and mines to start up Daqing Oilfield in 1960. Three years later, with an annual oil output of 60 million tons, Daqing had successfully made China self sufficient in oil.
"Daqing workers" together with the "Iron Man Spirit" has become a special term referring to those who demonstrated exceptional physical strength and moral character. The slogan of "Learning from Daqing" quickly swept China.
Over the decades, more than 40 percent of the country's total oil output of 1.87 billion tons has been produced from the largest oil production base in China.
Sources close to the Premier's inspection tour said the purpose of the trip was to conduct research on the challenges Daqing may face in its future development.
Sources said the Premier has presided over a forum in Daqing where he and experts brain stormed over the oil field's future. No details of the discussion were released.
Wen also climbed a drilling platform and spoke to the workers. "You have done a first-class job and made first-class achievements. China's oil industry is growing vigorously. We need more wells, in the earth and the ocean. We need more outstanding drilling workers like you," he said.
Hearing that 50 percent of the Daqing oil field has already been exploited (10 percent higher than the world's average), a smiling Wen urged the Daqing workers to double their efforts in research and development. "Use up-to-date technology to fully explore the potential of the old oilfield," he said.
He also urged the management of Daqing to seek out technical innovation to get more oil and gas out of the ground and create more job opportunities for local people.
During the first leg of his three-day trip to Heilongjiang Province which began Aug. 10, Wen also visited the homes of several farmers in Changsheng and Xinmin villages, where he stressed the importance of protecting farmland.