How do grassroots CPC members help promote rural revitalization in China?

In 1997, 21-year-old Xu Zhendong left Xuhuanglu Village, Lanling County, in east China's Shandong Province, for Shanghai, where he started his business by selling vegetables out of a borrowed cart. A decade later, he was running three companies, including a vegetable processing and distribution firm.

Surprisingly, Xu, in 2011, decided to return to his hometown when his business was thriving.

Why would a successful businessman living in a big city choose to come back? Villagers soon found the answer.

It turned out that Xu's success in business had attracted the attention of the Lanling government, which persuaded him to return to his hometown and to run for the new secretary of the local Communist Party of China (CPC) branch so that he could help localities develop the village and shake off poverty.

After working hard to build a successful business career in Shanghai, giving it up to return to his hometown was not easy for Xu, so he took a trip back home before making the critical decision. His mind was quickly made up.

"I was away for more than 10 years, and when I went back, I found out that my village hadn't developed much. I looked at our neighboring village, and people were living a better life. I decided to come back to help everyone in the village find a way to make their fortune," Xu said in an interview.

Just as Xu moved quickly in his business career, in his new role, one of his first acts was to set up a village cooperative.

A rising village

His decision got support from his colleagues, while they faced the headache of insufficient funds as the village had been in debt for years. Xu then advanced 5 million yuan ($690,000) to launch the cooperative.

Through their efforts, the cooperative unified the planning and construction processes for greenhouses. Upon completion, it leased these greenhouses to villagers in exchange for a usage fee. Villagers planted cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers to sell in Shanghai, and recovered their costs in the same year it started operations.

Now with over 430 members, the cooperative covers 240 hectares of fields across four villages, features 1,320 greenhouses and has become a high-standard demonstration zone for vegetable cultivation in Lanling. By cooperating with a host of enterprises and supermarkets in Shanghai along the Yangtze River Delta, it can sell over 13 million kilograms of vegetables annually.

Under the leadership of the local Party organization, the village is now working on two other significant projects: a modern agriculture project that combines farming, sightseeing and leisure activities, and an elderly-apartment project where local seniors can live for free and enjoy their old age.

'Head geese'

Xu's story is just one example of how the CPC is helping to drive common prosperity at the grassroots level.

In 2017, the Chinese government announced a strategy to help revitalize the country's economically stagnant countryside. The rural revitalization strategy includes a push to identify and recruit talented individuals to serve as "head geese" – people capable of leading villagers along the path to common prosperity.

Just like Xu, who was recognized by the Lanling County Party Committee as the "head goose" that Xuhuanglu Village needed, other village Party secretaries are also chosen for their ability to gather or apply resources, navigate and balance complex interpersonal networks, and drive residents forward.

Xu is one of the 490,000 secretaries of Party organizations in villages across China and one of the 98.041 million CPC members as of the end of 2022. They have taken root on the front lines and sought to consolidate and expand the achievements of poverty alleviation as well as advance rural revitalization.

Their work echoes the call of Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, for his Party comrades to make "every possible effort" to ensure that people can live happy lives.

"Chinese modernization is aimed at promoting common prosperity and addressing the unbalanced development among regions," Xi said during an inspection trip to south China's Guangdong Province in April.

He added that by adhering to the path of common prosperity, more resources should be allocated to assist less developed areas, promote social etiquette and civility, enhance the living environment and protect the rural eco-environment to improve the quality of life for the people.

(Cover: VCG)

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