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Xi Focus: Sitting down with the president before Chinese New Year

(Xinhua)    14:25, January 23, 2020

KUNMING, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- As the Year of the Pig is coming to an end, pig farmer Li Fashun received an unusual visitor at his village house in southwest China -- President Xi Jinping.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, walked into Li's house in Simola Wa Village in Yunnan Province last Sunday during an inspection tour to the province ahead of the Chinese New Year.

The house courtyard was basked in the rays of southwest China's warm winter sun. Xi sat down with Li's family of six at a square table.

"What is your expectation now that your family has been lifted out of poverty?" the president asked.

"A better life for our elders and good jobs for the kids. Then I will have nothing more to ask," the farmer replied.

Li's family is one of 16 households -- altogether 71 individuals -- who have left poverty behind in the country's anti-poverty campaign. With an annual per capita net income over 10,000 yuan (about 1,450 U.S. dollars), the entire village today is above the poverty line, leaving no single person behind.

The village has lived up to its name -- Simola, which in the local Wa language means the place of happiness.

"I raise pigs while growing some maize and tea at home. Sometimes I also collect and trade recycled items. My wife works at an electronics factory in Guangdong Province, earning a wage that is not bad," Li said.

"How is the price of pigs? How much can you earn by raising a pig?" Xi asked.

"I sold eight pigs for nearly 30,000 yuan," Li said with a big smile. "The government even gives us subsidies if we raise a sow."

This represents a fundamental transformation for Li's family. About a decade ago, the family was nearly destroyed by a car accident that left Li almost paralyzed. The family lost its main source of income, and the school fees of his son and daughter were left unpaid.

Li got help through "targeted poverty alleviation," an initiative put forward by Xi in 2013, mobilizing all sorts of resources and using individualized plans to help each and every family escape poverty.

Over 10 million Chinese people have shaken off poverty every year since 2013.

The country aims to eliminate extreme poverty by 2020 and is now in its final push to achieve the goal.

Xi has called on efforts to resolve the prominent problems in assuring the food and clothing needs of the rural poor population are met and guaranteeing they have access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing, referred to as the "two assurances and three guarantees."

At Li's home, Xi checked on the family's bedroom and kitchen.

"Do you feel cold at night?" Xi asked when touching the quilt on the bed.

Opening the fridge, Xi saw meat and vegetables. There was a hot meal in the wok.

"You have the assurance of both food and clothing," Xi said, nodding at Li.

The president went on to ask about the healthcare of Li's aging parents and education for the kids.

Li said both his parents were in good shape. With medical insurance, the family only had to pay less than one-tenth of the medical bills incurred in the past two years for the older generation.

Li's daughter, Li Lianhuan, jumped into the conversation, telling the president that she was receiving preferential loans and scholarships to cover her college expenses.

"You have only a year from graduation. What do you want to do for a career?" Xi asked.

"I am preparing to sit the graduate school examinations. With a graduate degree, I would like to be a civil servant," she answered.

"That's a great idea. You can certainly make it if you have a strong will," Xi responded.

"I want to study at the officers' college of the People's Armed Police," Li's little brother bared his ambition to the president.

"Great! Build a strong physique and join the armed police or the military! I wish you success," Xi said.

Xi then joined the family to make rice cakes, a traditional Wa means of ringing in the new year, and wished the family fortune and happiness.

It has been a routine for Xi to visit ordinary families ahead of every Chinese New Year since he assumed the country's top job. But the trip this year carries more significance as the country is set to complete building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, a symbolic benchmark of which is the victory in the fight against poverty.

The number of people living under China's national poverty line had dropped from 98.99 million in 2012 to 16.6 million at the end of 2018. In 2019, another 10-million-plus people were lifted out of poverty.

Talking to Li's fellow villagers, Xi said: "As you have cast off poverty and are marching toward new goals, our country will do the same."

Xi said after China achieves building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, it must make all-out efforts to advance rural vitalization to further address issues such as the urban-rural imbalance.

He said rural industries will be boosted, as well as the rural economy, to allow more and more villagers to work near home, increase their income and lead a better life.

"I wish your village of happiness even more happiness," Xi said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Bianji)

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