During the opening ceremony of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, one delegate was mobbed by scores of journalists. Unassuming and modest, this man called Ding Yousheng is associated with a long list of prestigious titles: sole farmer delegate from Jiangxi to the congress, national model worker, national advanced individual in aiding the disabled, and national outstanding rural doctor among the others.
"I was nominated as preliminary candidate for Party delegate by a unanimous vote at the village Party committee conference. People said they voted for me because I had brought real benefits to fellow villagers and because I had received so many prestigious awards from the government."
As a veteran Party member, Ding has a disability in his right leg as the aftermath of infantile paralysis in childhood. Fortunately, he is optimistic in nature and never feels discouraged by the disease. When he graduated from a local Chinese medicine vocational school in 1983, he opened the first private clinic in Xinyu City, providing health care services for over 3,000 local people.
To help his fellow villagers shrug off poverty and live a better life, in 1995, Ding made a deal with the village authority for a fruit farm that had run at loss for years. "When sun rose in the morning, I came to work in the field with eight disabled people and 10 impoverished villagers. When night came, I washed my hands clean and handled medical cases in the neighborhood," recalled.
After years of hard work, the fruit farm began to turn a profit and Ding decided to recruit all the 80-plus surplus labors in his village. Of them, more than 10 were disabled people. Moreover, in the years that followed, Ding set up a clinic to treat patients suffering from mental illnesses and founded a factory with others to handle construction materials.
"Thanks to the Party's brilliant leadership, farmers are living a life far better than before. I was also very happy that my fellow villagers said their affluence was partly attributed to me."
Due to Ding's outstanding contributions to the village, all Party members nominated him as a preliminary candidate for Party delegate in the village's Party committee conference. However, before Ding qualified as Party delegate, he had to go through several rounds of appraisals conducted by the Party committees at district, city and provincial levels.
Opinions were collected widely among grassroots Party members and Ding's fellow villagers. Everyone asked sang his praises and Ding easily passed the appraisal round after round.
When electing Party delegates, it is ruled that the number of candidates shall exceed that of the delegates. The name of Ding Yousheng and other candidates were announced to the public before they entered the last round of elections at the conference of the CPC Jiangxi Provincial Committee.
"To tell the truth, I was quite nervous before the final result was announced. But in mid-May, I was called to participate in a provincial Party conference. At that moment I knew I had won. Of course, I must wait for the final decision from the CPC Central Committee. It is really a great honor for me. In entire Xinyu City, there are only two delegates to this Party congress. The other is our city's Party chief." Ding became quite animated when he recalled the extraordinary experience.
Like many other delegates attending the congress, Ding felt the report of Party General Secretary Hu Jintao really echoed the voice of the farmers. Over the years, Ding has kept a close eye on Party policies geared toward improving farmers' livelihoods, such as building a new countryside, increasing farmers' incomes and setting up a new type of rural cooperative medical care system.
"All these policies and measures have combined to bring a considerable wealth to farmers. In my village, for example, over 90 percent of childless and infirm old villagers are looked after properly in nursing homes," said Ding.
"Since China is still handicapped by a weak agricultural foundation, I think more efforts should be made to improve the farmland irrigation and water conservancy systems, educate farmers in new technologies, better the quality of rural doctors, build more basic medical care facilities, accelerate the establishment of rural cooperative medical care systems, and promote the overall development of an agricultural insurance system.
"In the future, I will work even harder to expand the scale of our organic fruit farm and try my best to help my fellow villagers get rich."
Ding has a specially designed business card. On the front, characters in large font are printed to remind people of his Party congress delegate capacity, while on the back, there are two close-up pictures of the tangerines and pears produced in Ding's fruit farm.
"I never miss a chance to advertise our organic fruit farm," laughed Ding heartily.
(China.org.cn, 17thcongress.org.cn by Chen Xia, October 21, 2007)