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China's most famous, richest 'farmer' built empire worth 50bl yuan

By Hu Qingyun (Global Times)

08:49, March 20, 2013

Representatives of all circles express condolence to the death of Wu Renbao, the retired Communist Party of China (CPC) chief of Huaxi Village, at the mourning hall in Huaxi Village of Jiangyin City, east China's Jiangsu Province, March 19, 2013. (Xinhua/Zhang Liwei)

Wu Renbao, the former celebrated leader of the richest village in China, died in his home of lung cancer on Monday at the age of 85.

The former Party chief of Huaxi village in Jiangsu Province was known as the most famous farmer in China.

With annual business revenue of more than 50 billion yuan ($8 billion), Huaxi village has been portrayed as a model of common prosperity, one of the core principles of socialism, media reports said.

The development of Huaxi started in 1969, when Wu, who served as the local Party chief until 2003, took the unusual step of founding a village-owned textile factory.

Under Wu's leadership, the village's economy gradually transformed from farming to manufacturing, embracing the onslaught of urbanization, Li Zhou, the director of the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

"Huaxi's success is a tribute to Wu's advanced development concepts, as urbanization has become a model of developing rural areas in China," Li said.

Huaxi was also controversial for its method of distributing its wealth.

According to a previous Global Times report, residents of the original Huaxi village enjoy dividends from village enterprises every year and are assigned jobs, houses and cars. But residents from nearby villages that have been absorbed by Huaxi and migrant workers receive no such benefits.

Villagers attended a vigil to mourn his death on Tuesday.

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