Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, extends the Spring Festival greetings in Zhanqi Village of Pidu District in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Feb. 12, 2018. Xi made an inspection tour in Sichuan and extended greetings ahead of the Spring Festival, which falls on Feb. 16 this year. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)
CHENGDU, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Ahead of the Lunar New Year, President Xi Jinping has visited for days poor families in southwest China's remote mountains, inspected an earthquake-hit area, and joined villagers to prepare celebrations for this most important festival for the Chinese.
In Zhanqi, a village in Sichuan Province, a festive new year spirit is in the air. Villagers made dumplings at home, wrote new year scrolls, and went out to have family photos taken. The Lunar New Year begins on Friday.
When Xi arrived, they cheered and surrounded him to wish him a happy new year. The president was more than delighted to chat.
"My job is to serve the people," said Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. "To let the people live a great life is the original aspiration of us Communists."
In the village, Xi watched demonstrations on how villagers used the Internet to conduct agricultural business and sell local handicrafts. He even bought a pair of hand-sewn cloth shoes.
Xi later told local Party cadres and government officials to uphold people-centered development.
"Always be concerned with what the people are concerned with, love them and let them benefit," Xi ordered.
The president said the issues that concern the people most -- education, jobs, health care, social security and order -- should be properly dealt with to let the people feel richer, happier and safer.
Before coming to the village, Xi visited Yingxiu, Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the 8.0-magnitude earthquake that struck on May 12, 2008.
He visited the ruins of a middle school and laid flowers in memory of more than 80,000 people killed in the quake and the heroes who died during rescue work.
Xi said the ruins must be protected to become a base for education in patriotism.
In Yingxiu, Xi saw a town that had re-emerged from the quake.
The streets are clean, orderly and lined with shops. The festive atmosphere is also thick.
The president visited a tea making shop and a restaurant, where he helped make buttered tea, cook fried crisp pork and grind soybeans to make bean curd jelly.
Xi said the great achievement in quake recovery showed the strength of the Party leadership and the socialist system.
He urged officials to continue to grow the economy and improve the life of the locals.
WAR ON POVERTY
The first leg of Xi's new year inspection, from Saturday to Tuesday, took him to one of the country's impoverished areas -- Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture.
Eleven out of the 17 counties in the prefecture are flagged as key spots in the state's poverty alleviation work. The prefecture is populated by the Yi, an ethnic minority in China. Many live in remote mountainous areas, which impedes their economic development.
Xi went to two Yi villages, including one at 2,500 meters above sea level, to visit poor villagers.
He was happy to learn that villagers have increased their income through raising cattle and growing potatoes, pepper and walnuts.
"Not a single ethnic group, family or person should be left behind," Xi said. "To build a moderately prosperous society, the most difficult task lies in regions with extreme poverty."
"But we will fight and must win this war," he added.
Under Xi, China aims to eliminate absolute poverty by 2020.
About 68.53 million people have been lifted out of poverty over the past five years. There were around 30 million Chinese living below the national poverty line at the end of 2017, according to the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.
The poor have been Xi's foremost concern. For the sixth year in a row, Xi's Lunar New Year inspection tour has taken him to the front lines of China's war against poverty.
"Our socialist system is to let people of all ethnic groups live a great life," Xi said.
Before leaving the villages, the Yi people sang songs and gave the president a traditional cloak to wear.
Xi shook their hands and wished them a happy new year.
During Xi's inspection, he also visited an electronics manufacturing firm in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, where he inspected liquid crystal panels production process and learned about the firm's information security products.
Xi showed keen interest in the latest progress in the digital information sector, which is considered a key part of the real economy.
The president called on companies to improve their ability to innovate and compete in the global market, stressing that companies need to shift from Made-in-China to Invented-in-China and focus on quality instead of speed and creating more Chinese brands.
Xi underscored that China's economy has shifted from high-speed growth to high-quality development and that the goal is to develop a modernized economy.
"The government of Sichuan should further promote the development of the real economy, deepen supply-side structural reform, encourage innovation, and push forward the coordinated development of urban and rural areas," he said.
Xi said since the 19th CPC National Congress had shown the way forward for the Party and the state, cadres must work hard for the various tasks, and especially work to let the people benefit.
He reiterated upholding the authority of the CPC Central Committee and its centralized and unified leadership. "Do whatever the Party authority asks them to do and refrain from doing what it bans," he said.