The Party Profile - Geologist Li Yizu

Editor's note: The series "The Party Profile" looks at the lives of three CPC members from different generations who are working in rural areas. In the first episode, CGTN's anchor visits 83-year old geologist Li Yizu, a Chinese-born Caucasian who has dedicated himself to the nature of China's Xinjiang region.

"My name is Li Yizu. I graduated from the Beijing Institute of Geology in 1961. After college, I applied to go to Xinjiang. I worked on geology for some 20 years. I've been living and working in Xinjiang for more than 60 years. People thought I was a foreigner when they looked at me. But I was brought up by a Chinese woman in a Chinese family."

Li Yizu was born in Tianjin in 1938 when China was fighting Japan in a full-scale war on its land.

After giving birth to him, his biological mother, whom Li never met, left the baby behind.

His foster mom, a northern Chinese, brought him to Beijing and gave him a happy childhood in a turbulent time.

After college, Li Yuzu decided to be a geologist, and there was no better place to put his talent to work than Xinjiang, far away from Beijing but full of geological treasures.

"We had some 300 graduates then. More than 70 people applied to the Communist Party Branch in our colleague for working in Xinjiang."

"We finally got some 50 people who came here. And these were part of them. We got deployed at different places after our gathering in Urumqi. Some of my classmates went to Altay, some went to Korla, some went to Kashgar and some remained in Urumqi. But most of us were sent to different geological teams."

Li spent most of his time searching for minerals. The job was tough and sometimes deadly. 

"The job was hard, to be honest. Every day, we crossed the mountains. And we had to walk when cars were not able to go through. Sometimes we had to walk 20 or 30 kilometers. Sometimes it was so exhausting that we would swear on the top of a mountain that never would we climb mountains again. But we found there were mineral veins under our feet. Then we were determined to carry on."
Li Yizu applied to join the Communist Party of China in 1966, but the dream didn't come true until 1981. He had always cherished the first edition of "Dedicating Everything to the Party," the autobiography of Wu Yunduo, a Chinese ordnance expert in the 1940s, published in 1953. He said Wu's words from the book, "A true person should be free from self-interests and be a loyal servant of the people,"  greatly impacted his life. But that is not where he first learned about the importance of serving others.

"I lived in the Dongcheng District of Beijing, but I studied in Xicheng District. And I loved listening to Pingshu after school. There's one time that Pingshu was canceled, and I ran into Longxugou - or Dragon Beard Ditch - a slum area surrounded by smelly ditches then. I was so scared. After 1949, the People's Government of Beijing Municipality added Longxugou to its first urban renewal project. Then writer Lao She wrote a play named "Dragon Beard Ditch." I remember there were two lines in that play: 'My water is sweet and good. It costs you only five cents for one cup.' Frankly, I felt that the government had served the people. I truly believe in Marxism."

After retirement, Li volunteered to teach children about science and life, subjects he has loved and lived. More than 300,000 young people have been to his lectures.
He believed it is his responsibility to pass on the baton.

"Only the Communist Party of China can build the country into a stronger one and lead the Chinese people to living better lives. Our generation has fulfilled our mission. We want to help the younger generation succeed in making China a greater nation."

Sometimes he brought the children to nature in his beloved Xinjiang, the place he knows the best.

At the end of the interview, Li explained why. To be exact, he gave us a lecture on geology at the hillside of the Tianshan Mountains.

"Around 10,000 years ago, Xinjiang was all covered by ice. And Tianshan was a valley formed by glaciers. One earthquake caused a collapse on both sides of mountains and the rocks blocked the river. And gradually, the Heavenly Lake was formed."

"Over there is the Horse Teeth Mountain. The mountain looks exactly like teeth of a horse, quite sharp."

"At that time, the roads were full of stones. It was quite dangerous to drive here. Now the roads have become broad and smooth."

Biologically Li Yizu is a Caucasian, but culturally he is Chinese and politically he is a Communist Party member. He had faith and was motivated by the party when he was braving the cold to find coal in Xinjiang or teaching children about survival skills in the wild. Like many of his generation, he found something bigger than himself that is highly respected in Chinese society, to serve the people. That choice not only made him a successful man but also a proud member of the party.

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