BEIJING, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) — Ten years on, middle school teacher Ma Hailong can still clearly remember General Secretary Xi Jinping visiting his home and tasting water in the jar with a ladle.
A few days before the Spring Festival in 2013, Ma's grandfather received Xi, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, in their home in Yuangudui Village, Weiyuan County, in northwest China's Gansu Province.
While chatting with the Ma's, Xi noticed a water jar and scooped some water up to his mouth, but immediately frowned at the taste.
"There were still some stains on the ladle, but he drank the water without hesitation," recalled Ma, then a university student. "The general secretary truly cares about whether we have access to safe water. He has us ordinary people in his heart."
Located in a mountainous area some 2,400 meters above sea level, Yuangudui Village had been plagued by droughts for generations, and local residents had to take a long trek to fetch water.
The day after his visit, Xi toured a water diversion project, calling for greater efforts to ensure local residents have access to clean water.
By December 2014, the first phase of the water diversion project had been completed, bringing clean water to the villagers of Yuangudui.
Greater changes have since taken place in the village. Burgeoning industries such as planting and processing of traditional Chinese medicinal herbs, tourism and e-commerce have significantly increased villager's incomes. New roads were built. The Ma's and many neighbors have built new houses, with tap water.
"Let's work together for a more prosperous life," Xi told the villagers, and this has become a reality.
In 2012, over 80 percent of the households in Yuangudui were below the poverty line, but by 2018, they had been lifted out of poverty. In 2022, the village's per capita disposable income reached 14,000 yuan (about 2,074 U.S. dollars), about 10 times that of ten years ago.
Since assuming the Party's top job in November 2012, Xi has always taken time to talk with local people, the underprivileged groups in particular, to learn about their difficulties and needs ahead of the Spring Festival. His visits included one in 2014 to the home of a forestry worker in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and one in 2022 to a village hard-hit by the previous year's heavy flooding in north China's Shanxi Province.
Ahead of the 2023 Spring Festival, Xi made video calls to people across China, including residents of Shiyi Village in the city of Mianyang, southwest China's Sichuan Province.
The village has been reconstructed after a devastating earthquake in 2008, and has become an exemplary village, thanks to its specialty agricultural products and abundant tourism resources, featuring the Qiang ethnic group.
"What concerns me the most is those who are still in straitened circumstances. The deepest concern of my heart is how they get along and whether they will have a good New Year and a good Spring Festival," Xi said in his 2017 New Year message.
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