Chinese leader Xi Jinping urged local authorities to escalate poverty-alleviation work during his visit to impoverished villages in North China's remote Fuping county. The visit was first reported by the Xinhua News Agency's official microblog.
Braving chilly weather, Xi, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, reached Fuping, an impoverished county set deep in the Taihang Mountains of Hebei Province, on Saturday afternoon.
Xi's Sunday visit, which was first reported via microblogging services, has been widely hailed by experts and commentators.
"It demonstrates his feelings for people in poverty and in former revolutionary bases," said Ai Yiwei, professor with the Party school of the Hunan Provincial Committee of the CPC.
On Sunday morning, Xi visited farmers' homes in the villages of Luotuowan and Gujiatai in Longquanguan township to get a first-hand look at people's lives there.
During chats with villagers, Xi paid special attention to difficulties in their daily life, such as problems concerning income, food, education and medical care. He also visited local clinics and shops and talked with village officials. Xi said local officials should always bear in mind poverty-stricken groups and work for them with their whole heart and soul.
Local Party and government authorities should place more emphasis on the mission of helping people out of poverty, especially people in impoverished regions, he said.
Xi also said the authorities should strive to find the right way to bring the people out of poverty by adjusting policies to conditions in a scientific manner.
Xi said policies designed to support agriculture, rural areas and farmers and alleviate poverty must be implemented fully, calling the embezzlement of poverty-alleviation funds an "intolerable crime."
Statistics show that the annual net income per capita is only around 2,400 yuan ($390) for farmers in natural resource-poor Fuping county, a former revolutionary base 300 kilometers from Beijing.
"The most arduous and heavy task facing China in completing the building of a moderately prosperous society is in the rural areas, especially the poverty-stricken regions," Xi said.
He made the remarks after hearing officials' reports on local economic and social development. A well-off China won't come if people in rural areas can't live a well-off life, he said.
Xi said the central authorities are highly concerned about poverty-alleviation work, urging all local Party and government organs to fulfill their responsibilities well to bring people out of poverty quickly.
China aims to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society by the end of 2020, with a sharp decrease in the number of poverty-stricken rural residents, according to a report from the 18th CPC National Congress.
The report said China will boost economic and social development in old revolutionary bases, minority regions, border regions and impoverished regions and further deepen the poverty-alleviation drive.
Based on the current poverty line of 2,300 yuan in annual net income per capita, China has 128 million impoverished people in rural areas.