Aerial photo taken on July 12, 2021 shows scenery of the Zhengding ancient town after rain in Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province. (Xinhua/Luo Xuefeng)
BEIJING, April 30 (Xinhua) -- It was an ordinary day in the 1980s. As Feng Yuming toiled in the cotton fields, a young man parked his bike by the fields and approached him.
"Hello, uncle Feng! I'm here to learn how to grow cotton from you," the young man politely greeted Feng, who was regarded as a local expert in cotton cultivation.
Feng was initially taken aback by the courteous demeanor, and was even more surprised when he realized that the young man was 29-year-old Xi Jinping, who was then deputy chief of the Communist Party of China committee of Zhengding county, Hebei Province.
Xi has never been someone who likes sitting idly by. Early in his life, he has fostered the habit of going on field trips to forge close ties with the people and hear their thoughts.
In Zhengding, his passion for making such trips to connect with local residents has left a lasting impression on his colleagues.
When Xi first came to work in the county, he didn't start giving orders and instructions right away, recalled Li Yaping, a former county official who worked closely with him. "Instead, he spent the first three months visiting places in the county to get familiar with local situations."
Xi's down-to-earth attitude toward work enabled him to identify the most pressing issues that needed to be addressed.
Zhou Weisi, a former journalist who interviewed Xi in 1984, recalled a field trip during which Xi inspected school conditions in a local village. Shocked by the poorly equipped classrooms with shattered windows at a primary school, Xi immediately questioned the principal, "How can you bear to see children studying in such run-down classrooms?"
Upon learning that the village was financially capable of refurbishing the school but did not allocate the funds, Xi instructed, "You are to discuss the matter tonight and submit a rectification plan next week to the county education bureau."
Of course, Xi's inspection trips were more than just discovering problems. Along the way, he also made new friends at the grassroots level, and Feng was one of them.
Recalling those days, Gao Peiqi, who worked in the county's publicity department at the time, said that not long after meeting Feng in the cotton field, Xi spent time learning cotton-growing techniques from the veteran farmer, and developed a close friendship with him.
"Later, Xi promoted the techniques across the county," said Gao, adding that these efforts resulted in a significant increase in local cotton yield, bringing tangible benefits to the cotton growers.
Even after becoming the country's top leader, Xi has never alienated himself from the people. Whenever his inspection tour takes him to local households, he always asks specific questions to learn about their livelihoods and find out their needs.
Xi had made up his mind to devote himself to the country and the people early in his life, Li Yaping summarized. ■