1. Li Keqiang, visiting the Poor
The days before Spring Festival are times to be nice: to visit old cadres and to show how much their past work is still cherished, to harmonize human existence with the surrounding environment, to transfer some bad elements to the other side of the cupboard, and to show care for the poor.
The latter two points are particularly important if you are a cadre, or a politician in a wider sense.
Hence, CCP politburo permanent member and Chief State Councillor Li Keqiang (李克强, also referred to as “premier”), reportedly headed to Liping County in Guizhou province on Friday, to visit Pudong (蒲洞村), a village with a share of 43 percent poor people, with an annual net income of 2,160 Yuan RMB, and many housewalls open to the wind from all four directions. Obviously, he didn’t come empty-handed, but handing over salted fish and other goods to a Dong family as new-year gifts – stuff he had bought in a supermarket in the morning, according to Xinhua. The high-ranking visitor tested the quality of drinking water in the village (mindful of his working report in 2014 that had promised to solve the drinking water safety issues of 60 million citizens, visited what might best be translated as the village’s hygiene room (basic medical services), enquired if public subsidies for the village medical services had actually been applied right there, discussed employment opportunities and repayment problems with students who returned to their native village after completing their studies, and worked his way through other ostensibly spontaneous items of inspection.
2. Xi Jinping’s Fond Memories of the 1960s
However, the task of being folksy has not completely moved from CCP secretary general Xi Jinping to Li Keqiang, who is generally considered ranking second among the members of the politburo’s standing committee. While Li travelled Guizhou, Xi visited Liangjiahe village in Shaanxi province, also on Friday.
Sina coverage: Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan visiting the Yan’an brigade’s old base
At noon, the tranquil village of Liangjiahe suddenly began to simmer with excitement.
Xi Jinping has returned!
The secretary-general has come!
You get the picture.
According to biography, Xi Jinping had spent about seven years there, leading a tough, simple life as a teenage worker.
The Xinhua article goes across a number of webpages and describes Xi Jinping’s bittersweet – but above all sweet, in case of a doubt – memories. How he became a real man during those years in Shaanxi. The title chosen by Xinhua: The Son of the Yellow Soil is coming Home.
All that had been part of the Down-to-the-Countryside movement and the “Cultural Revolution”. Xi Jinping’s father, Xi Zhongxun, was in jail at the time.
3. 102nd Anniversary of Tibetan Declaration of Independence commemorated
On Friday, Tibetan exiles in North America and Europe commemorate the 13th Dalai Lama’s declaration of Tibetan independence, 102 years ago, reports Voice of Tibet (VoT), a Norway-based website and shortwave radio station. More than sixty exiles and supporters held a demonstration in front of the Chinese embassy in Paris, according to the report. Demonstrations reportedly also took place on Times Square, New York, and in Toronto. The station also reported commemorative activities in Dharamsala, and in New Delhi.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) also covered the activities, and suggests that the 13th Dalai Lama’s declaration initiated a period of almost four decades of self-rule that ended when Chinese troops marched into the Himalayan region in 1949. RFA also mentions the current (and 14th) Dalai Lama’s “middle-way” policy which accepts Tibet’s present status as a part of China while regularly urging greater cultural, religious, and political freedoms for the Tibetan people.