Foreign manufacturers begin expanding into Chinese market to seize opportunities

Toyota Motor Corp and Panasonic Corp announced a battery business partnership agreement on Wednesday, with those batteries expected to be used in EVs produced by Toyota’s JVs in China. Experts say it is unlikely to pose too much pressure on domestic independent automotive lithium-ion battery makers such as BYD and CATL.

However, thanks to the rapid development of the new energy battery sector, it is becoming a growing trend for more and more leading global battery manufacturers to begin expanding into the Chinese market. Meanwhile, experts also say foreign companies are still facing heavy pressure to cut costs in order to compete with local producers.

Amid fierce competition among automotive battery manufacturers to win larger market shares, Toyota Motor Corp announced a partnership agreement with Panasonic Corp on Wednesday to begin studying the feasibility of a joint automotive prismatic battery business.

The move is considered Toyota’s great ambition in the Chinese market, as it is very likely that the batteries will be used in new-energy vehicles (NEVs) produced by Toyota’s joint ventures (JVs) in China.

Toyota recently announced that it will make more than 10 electric vehicle (EV) models globally in the early 2020s, with sales starting in China, Reuters reported on Monday.

What influence will this move pose to domestic battery manufacturers?

Leading domestic battery manufacturers BYD Auto Co and Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) declined to comment when reached by the Global Times on Thursday.

But industry expert Zheng Jiatu, deputy managing director of the China Electric Vehicle Charging Technology and Industry Alliance, said that the deal is unlikely to pose too much influence on domestic battery brands.

With China’s NEV market looking good to Toyota, the Japanese manufacturer hopes to enter into the sector. “As far as I know, the batteries are very likely to be used in NEVs produced by Toyota’s JVs like Tianjin FAW Toyota Motor Co and GAC Toyota Motor Co rather than be directly sold in the Chinese market,” Zheng told the Global Times on Sunday.

On December 11, Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei Asian Review reported that Panasonic will start to mass produce batteries for electric motorcycles and low-speed EVs at its lithium-ion battery plant in Wuxi, East China’s Jiangsu Province, and may even supply them to Chinese companies due to the rising demand of batteries in the country.

Liu Yong, secretary-general of the Energy Storage Applications Branch of the China Industrial Association of Power Sources, said that it is still difficult to measure to what extent the expansion of global leading brands will influence domestic makers as their competitiveness is strong after years of development.

But the presence of foreign-backed battery makers could boost technological upgrading of lithium-ion batteries in China, Liu said.

Currently, leading Japanese and South Korean battery manufacturers produce nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) batteries, while their Chinese counterparts mainly focus on lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) batteries. The latter has lower capacity density and shorter driving mileage, but is safer.

Growing competition

Panasonic is currently the world’s biggest supplier of batteries for plug-in hybrid vehicles and EVs. In the first half of this year, Panasonic took up a 29 percent market share, followed by South Korean battery maker LG Chem Ltd with a 13 percent share, and Chinese brands BYD and CATL with shares of 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively, data from the Nomura Research Institute showed.

Panasonic considers the battery business central to its goal of doubling its automotive business revenue to 2.5 trillion Japanese yen ($22.05 billion) by March 2022, Fortune reported on Thursday. To realize that goal, it has been expanding its battery production capacity across the world.

Domestic battery maker BYD, based in Shenzhen, South China’s Guangdong Province, has been investing in research and development as well as the manufacturing of NMC batteries to complement its LFP batteries.

The company said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Thursday that it invested in an NMC battery production base of 10 gigawatt hours in Northwest China’s Qinghai Province to realize production capacity. BYD has since built facilities in the US, Brazil, Japan and Hungary.

Meanwhile, CATL, a latecomer based in Ningde, East China’s Fujian Province, has developed fast this year.

On December 4, the catalog for the 11th batch of NEVs, published by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, added 165 new vehicle types that qualify for promotion. CATL supplies batteries for 40 of these types of vehicles.

Vehicles included in the catalog can get subsidies, a favorable policy to help promote the development of the domestic new energy industry.

In terms of the overall performance index, the gap between domestic independently-made lithium-ion batteries and their foreign counterparts is not obvious, but what is certain is that battery cell performance is not as desirable, according to Zheng.

For example, Tesla’s chief battery scientist Kurt Kelty announced in May that his team made a great breakthrough, with the Tesla battery life now decreasing by 5 percent or less after the vehicle has run 480,000 kilometers.

Tapping the Chinese market

The sales of NEVs maintained high-speed growth this year, with the figure climbing to 609,000 units between January and November alone, the latest data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) showed.

According to CAAM, the sales growth rate of NEVs is expected to stay between 40 and 50 percent in 2018.

With the rapid growth of the market and the phase-out of subsidies to domestic new energy automobile brands, Japanese and South Korean battery makers in the Chinese market will grab new opportunities, experts noted.

The Chinese central government will cut subsidies to NEVs by 10 percent this year from the 2016 level and plans to phase out the subsidies entirely by 2020.

“With smart machinery and excellent processing techniques, foreign battery brands are indeed superior to their domestic counterparts. Demand for them may increase when the high-end market booms, but they also face heavy pressure to cut costs, and improve efficiency and safety in the Chinese market,” Liu said.

Only when costs are effectively lowered, driving mileages enlarged and ancillary facilities established will the demand for NEVs be truly realized, he said.

Zheng said that chargeable batteries may be a good choice to popularize NEVs among customers. “Just like petroleum stations, battery stations may also emerge in the future, supplying fully-charged batteries for NEVs,” he said.

Source: Global Times

China’s paid knowledge sharing services expected to rake in 50 billion this year

The revenue of China’s paid knowledge sharing services industry is expected to hit 50 billion RMB this year, and the users who pay for such services have already exceeded 50 million by August, Chinese newspaper Science and Technology Daily reported on Dec. 21.

Thanks to Chinese people’s increasingly strong urge for learning, the convenience of online payments, and raised awareness of copyright protection, the industry experienced rapid development in the recent two years.

Statistics indicate that people between 19 and 25 years old are the main users of such services. Those between 20 and 24 accounted for 46.1% of the total number of users on Dedao, a leading online knowledge services provider.

However, the average attendance rate for online classes stood at merely 7%. The users who persist in studying and are willing to renew such subscriptions are far less.

Right now, it remains to be seen if the industry will stand the test of time and edge into the mass market. Whether it is essentially a battle for life-long study or a “chicken soup for success” still needs to be measured by users.

In pics: 1,000 students write family letters on playground

About 1,000 students sat on their school playground writing letters to their parents on Dec. 25. When finished, the letters were sealed and stamped and then sent out by the teachers.

Writing family letters is part of the school’s campaign to teach students to express gratitude to their parents, said president of the Chengdu May Flower Senior Technical School in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu.

The activity is also aimed at promoting communication between children and parents. Some students said they almost forgot the format of a letter because they haven’t written letters for a long time, and others came to tears while expressing their feelings toward their parents.

Overseas Chinese students are paying for ghostwritten essays at unprecedented levels, but the jig might be up

Many Chinese students studying abroad pay vast sums of money for ghostwriting services. Photos: IC, screenshot of a ghostwriting agency’s official page

Every day, hundreds of thousands of messages advertising ghostwriting agencies are sent out across Chinese social media platforms.

“Our professional ghostwriting agency provides all sorts of essays: speeches, work summaries, professional movie critiques, fiction, self-introductions. We also provide ghostwriting for English essays, assignments, reports, papers, contact us!” reads one advertisement in a WeChat group.

Searches on the Internet pull up similar results: “Original ghostwriting essays,” “Successful Ghostwriting,” “Ghostwriting homework for students studying abroad,” and “Ghostwriting love letters” are just some of the top results.

Ghostwriting has existed in China for many years. The Chinese government once issued some policies trying to stem the problem, without succeeding. Chinese students studying abroad are also using these “resources” for their English-language academic papers. And as their numbers increase, the issue becomes even more serious.

According to data from China’s Ministry of Education, in 2016 about 540,000 Chinese students attended overseas schools, an increase of 36 percent from 2012. Out of that number, 78 percent went to native English-speaking countries such as the US, UK and Australia.

Different from in China, where academic rules are more relaxed and often unenforced, when Chinese students who are enrolled in foreign schools are caught using ghostwriters, they face severe punishments including expulsion.

A fear of flunking

Many Chinese students use such services because they feel they have no other choice. Aileen, a Chinese college student in the UK, told the Southern Weekly that she was afraid of not getting her diploma, so she turned to ghostwriting services to write all her papers, spending hundreds of thousands of yuan in the process.

Aileen majored in management and wanted a master’s degree in the same field. The education agency she applied through suggested she major in International Developmental Management. She did not carefully read the details of this major, and by the time she started school in the UK she realized it was far different from what she had expected.

The course required heavy policy research, which she felt she could not handle. During her first semester, Aileen found herself a relatively affordable ghostwriting agency, but still ended up failing four of her classes.

During her second semester, Aileen spent an additional 80,000 yuan ($12,193) to buy more ghost-written essays. She had to ask her parents for money without telling them what it was being spent on.

Even though all those papers received passing marks, she herself still failed her final exams. On the verge of flunking out of school, instead of simply studying, Aileen became even more dependent on ghostwriting agencies, believing that if she could just find herself the most expensive and most dependable agent, she’d be able to graduate.

According to Whole Ren Education, a private research center, in 2014 about 8,000 Chinese students were kicked out of American universities due to cheating or plagiarism.

On Chinese question and answer site Zhihu (China’s version of Quora), many students admitted anonymously that they have used such services out of a fear of flunking and not graduating. Many also blamed the language barrier or the way foreign universities conduct their courses, which is far different than at Chinese universities.

“What’s the point of education? I think over 90 percent of my classmates just want to get a good job and have a better future,” one student wrote. “So is studying hard really the way to get there?”

Another student contacted by Southern Weekly said he tries to write his college papers himself, but seeing his peers achieve excellent grades through ghostwriting agencies, even though they spend all their free time partying and drinking alcohol, makes him feel that life is unfair.

“I don’t know how long I can last,” he told the Southern Weekly. “Maybe I’ll find a ghostwriter for my next paper.”

Carefully woven net

Spurred by the massive demand, ghostwriting agencies for Chinese students have existed for decades, with those who pay for them being directly responsible for their continued existence.

Agents usually advertise their ghostwriting services on WeChat and QQ groups, as well as Internet forums where overseas Chinese students congregate. Once the agent receives a query from a student, the agent emails their ghostwriter the request and specific instructions, and the writer gets to work.

Most ghostwriters are paid 300-400 yuan per 1000 words, but the essays must receive a passing score in order for the ghostwriter to receive payment. Wu Wenhao, an agent in his early 20s, told the Southern Weekly that he has a “good reputation” and endless clients, who usually pass. “I earn nearly 100,000 yuan per month,” he bragged.

Wang Hong (pseudonym) worked as a ghostwriter a few years ago while she herself was still in college. She was approached by an agent who asked if she would like to “make a few extra bucks” by writing essays for her fellow students.

Wang showed a list of all the paid essays she has ever written to the Global Times, which covered a wide range of topics, from finance and linguistics to history and literary studies. Some were just simple freshman-year essays, such as book reviews. The Global Times asked Wang why the students could not handle such simple assignments.

“They probably didn’t want to bother to read the book,” Wang shrugged.

For more difficult topics, Wang spent more time on research and citing multiple sources. But in her opinion, the work was always quite easy, and so was the money. Nonetheless, after just a couple of years, Wang quit ghostwriting. “It was a way to make some money during my school days,” she said. “But I have found more noble ways to earn a living now.”

Dim future

The booming ghostwriting business might be over soon, as many foreign schools have finally begun to crackdown on the problem. In January of 2017, after British media reported on the use of ghostwriters among overseas Chinese students, the UK government outlawed ghostwriting academic papers, with stiff punishments for offenders.

For many Chinese students, however, they don’t understand the severe consequences of plagiarism. In China, the phenomenon is so unhinged that it has become a prevalent part of campus life.

In 2013, China’s Ministry of Education released a policy saying if dissertations are counterfeited, the author will be warned, disqualified from teaching or even fired. However, the phenomenon still went on as usual.

Wang, the former ghostwriter, confirmed this to the Global Times. “Once I wrote a doctoral dissertation for an associate professor of a Chinese university,” she admitted.

At foreign universities, “contract cheating” and “plagiarism” are subject to academic punishment. UK’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAAHE) released new guidelines this year saying it will crack down on companies offering such services and punish students who purchase them.

The QAAHE also said it now has software that can determine whether a paper has been plagiarized or ghostwritten.

In the US, plagiarism violates the ethics standards of most universities; violators face failing grades and expulsion. But this is no guarantee that the phenomenon can be completely stopped. Analysts say that to rid this issue from the root, good moral values must be instilled in Chinese students early on.

Southern Weekly contributed to the story

Source: Global Times

Cultural understanding strong bond for B&R success

The Belt and Road (B&R) initiative is a mega plan for the century. It will be a game-changer for the whole region, improving economic and security conditions. It will have a far-reaching impact on the geopolitical scenario of the region as well.

Unlike other existing alliances such as the EU, Gulf Cooperation Council, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and African Union, which are based on common cultural backgrounds, the B&R initiative includes countries and regions with diverse cultures, religions, languages and political systems. Some of the countries are based on the socialist political system, while others follow the capitalist system. The initiative includes countries with Islam as their religion, as well as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and secular nations. Some of the countries are developed, some are developing and a few are underdeveloped. Their languages also vary widely.

Their cultural values are not only different from one another: sometimes they are direct opposites. For example, in China when people are happy, they drink alcohol and celebrate, while in Muslim countries it is prohibited to drink alcohol. In some countries, it is common practice that people criticize their governments, but in other countries it is improper or even forbidden to speak against the government or the leadership.

Given all these differences, implementation of the B&R initiative could be much more difficult than other alliances of the world. Below is a case study of Pakistan and China. We tried to find common cultural values in both nations as a basis for a strong bond for the overall success of the B&R initiative.

Despite having different political systems, religions, languages and so forth, both countries enjoy an ideal relationship. This relationship is based on cherished values of international law including non-interference, equality, justice, mutual benefit and mutual respect. The Sino-Pakistan relationship has grown stronger and proved to be a role model in international relations for the rest of the world.

In China, like Pakistan, family is the basic unit of society and Chinese believe in strong family bonds. Parents take care of their children even after their marriages. Grandparents have a very special love for grandchildren, too. Traditionally the marriage bond has been very strong and divorce was considered a curse. Elderly parents were looked after by their children until they died.

However, recently under the influence of Western culture, the marriage bond has weakened in China and the divorce rate has increased. Old parents also face difficulty in living with their children. The same is happening in Pakistan and Western culture has been visible in our society too. Women in both countries are the financial managers of the family, responsible for spending and saving.

In both societies, traditionally marriages were arranged by parents or elders of the family. But these days, youngsters get to know each other and marry with or without the consent of their parents. Traditionally, red dresses were used for brides in China as is still the case in Pakistan. Recently however, white dresses have become more common under Western influence. Before marriage, functions were arranged during the day and lunch was served. Now such functions are held in the evening and dinner is served, although there could be exceptions in rural areas of both countries. Chinese people usually give gifts of hongbao during marriage ceremonies and so do Pakistani people. The difference lies in the colors of the envelopes.

Also, Chinese hospitality is proverbial and they entertain their guests with the best possible food and gifts, even if they can barely afford it. Friendship is valued very highly in Chinese culture. While at the dinner table in a restaurant, friends often quarrel over paying the bill. This behavior is very common both in Chinese and Pakistani society.

Both countries have taken several initiatives to promote understanding between the people of two countries. Nearly 20 universities in Pakistan have established China Study centers with the aim to bring awareness about China among the youth of Pakistan. Four Confucius centers have already been established in Pakistan by the Chinese government for teaching Chinese language and culture to Pakistani nationals. A few more will be established in the near future.

Exchanges of youth and professional delegations between the two countries have become a very regular thing. A sector under special focus is the media, with frequent seminars, workshops and study trips. More than 20,000 Pakistani students are enrolled at Chinese universities in various specializations, including engineering, agriculture, social sciences and health. They are learning these subjects in addition to Chinese language and culture. When they return to Pakistan, they will bring Chinese culture.

Through films and TV series, both sides are narrowing cultural gaps. Many Chinese universities are teaching the national language of Pakistan (Urdu) to Chinese youths. Several universities in China have established Pakistan Study centers. The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan and Pakistani Embassy in China are promoting public diplomacy. Enhanced people-to-people contact will help mutual understanding.

In view of these commonalities and initiatives, it is natural that the two countries are close allies and enjoy a friendship “higher than mountains, deeper than occasions, sweeter than honey, stronger than steel.” Our cooperation will even grow stronger and closer day by day. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will be a success story and role model for the rest of world and ensure the success of the B&R initiative.

Source: Global Times

China’s AI bubbles grow as some firms to go bankrupt in 2018

Some insiders claim that bubbles are already growing in China’s artificial intelligence (AI) sector, following the rapid expansion of the industry. Firms that lack long-term strategies to counteract the emergence of such scenarios may go bankrupt sooner rather than later.

Like many attractive industries at their early stages, China’s AI domain has been favored by both private capital and the government, Zhu Pinpin, founder of Shanghai Xiaoi Robot Technology Co, told the Global Times on Monday. “To some extent, we expected a bubble, as investors and governments pushed forward expansion of the industry,” he said.

Opportunities in virtual reality and AI have grown exponentially recently, with both considered good bets on the venture capital (VC) investment circuit, according to a quarterly report that KPMG released in October. Use of these technologies in a diverse range of sectors such as medical research, retail, manufacturing and transportation should keep them among the hottest VC investment areas over the next few quarters, the report forecast.

Companies in the Chinese mainland attracted $10.2 billion of VC investment in 95 deals between July and September, the report showed.

“It has become easy for businesses to attract investors and secure funds by claiming to be involved in AI, the flavor of the year,” Xiang Yang, an analyst at Beijing-based CCID Consulting, told the Global Times on Monday.

As of the end of June, there were in total 2,542 AI companies across the globe, with the US home to 1,078 of them, according to a report by Tencent Research Institute and Beijing-based research firm ITJUZI in August. Second on the list came China with 592. China has raised a total of 63.5 billion yuan ($9.7 billion), 33.2 percent of total world AI financing.

Some attendees at a recent industry forum in Suzhou, East China’s Jiangsu Province, confirmed that the AI sector is increasingly concerned by bubbles. Yao Hua, a partner in an equity investment firm under the Suzhou-based fund management corporate Oriza Holdings, declared that the bubbles are now obvious, with more challenges awaiting in other layers, including basic theory and technological breakthroughs.

Although China lags behind the US in the scale of fundraising, the success rate in securing a round of financing is much higher than in the US, noted the Tencent-ITJUZI report. The average success rate in China is 69 percent, compared to 51 percent in the US.

“A large number of AI start-ups will go bankrupt in 2018, similar to what happened during dotcom bubble,” Liu Qingfeng, president of Chinese voice recognition firm iFlytek Co Ltd, recently told another industry forum.

The dotcom bubble in the late 1990s was characterized by a rapid rise in equity markets fueled by investment in Internet-based firms, according to US financial info site investopedia.com. The bubble was formed and fed by cheap money, market overconfidence and speculation.

“As a way of luring investors, some so-called AI applications appear to only exist in the company’s PowerPoint presentations. We have no idea how they are used in real scenarios,” Zhu said.

“We see homogeneous competition in some areas of AI today. Some sectors such as voice recognition, service robots and security guards have less innovative products coming out of them,” Xiang said.

In China, smart medical services, smart automobiles and smart education are among the hottest areas for AI, according to the Tencent-ITJUZI report.

Market shuffle

With a large number of Internet companies pouring money into the AI sector, the market will be shuffled in the coming year, and players must find sustainable business models or perish.

“For now, the bubble is still controllable, but we need to be fully aware of potential risks,” Zhu said.

Still, some firms have been very focused on specific domains such as voice recognition or image recognition, and now have to work on vertical sectors to make their businesses more sustainable, noted Xiang, the analyst.

The economic potential of AI is tied the use of such technologies by traditional industries, according to a McKinsey & Company report in April. However, AI is not yet a strategic priority for over 40 percent of companies in those sectors.

Source: Global Times

Boston receives ‘Made in China’ subway trains

The first subway trains manufactured by China for Boston’s new Orange Line were recently shipped to the city, its manufacturer said on Monday, China News Agency reported.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has displayed the “Christmas gift” from China on its Twitter account.

Testing of the prototype has begun, the agency said, adding that it will take months to test the rest of the trains after they are shipped to the US.

The subway trains rolled off the production line in October.

State-owned train maker CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Railway Rolling Stock Corp, is the first Chinese company to export its subway trains to the United States with complete Chinese intellectual property.

CRRC built its first train manufacturing base in the US in September 2015. The base, which can assemble, test, and provide after-sales service, is expected to come into use at the beginning of 2018 for local production of subway trains.

MBTA forecasts that the new Orange Line will be put into use in 2019.

Young footballer to apply for Chinese citizenship, play for Chinese Super League

Jesus Carrasco Zhou, a 15-year-old promising footballer with mixed parentage of China and Spain, has decided to apply for Chinese citizenship and play for Chinese Super League club Guangzhou R&F, China News reported on Dec. 24.

Before obtaining Chinese citizenship, the young man will join Real Betis for a round of youth football training. He has received three rounds of trial training at Guangzhou R&F.

The young footballer has played football since he was five years old. He has played for Next Star, and participated in provincial-level tournaments in Spain, as well as inter-school football contests held by Arsenal.

Jesus lived in China with his mother before he was five. His grandfather, Angel Carrasco Diaz, disclosed that the young man prefers eating with chopsticks and likes China more than Spain.

Believing China will give full play to his role, Jesus said his dream is to be a member of the Chinese Super League and to fight for the World Cup for China. His grandfather said the whole family is supportive of their young boy’s decision.

The decision is valued by China, as it has introduced a strong policy to curb splashy spending on players, especially on foreign players.

Yu Xiaobo, person in charge of the sports resources education platform in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, said China’s football system, especially in youth training, lags behind Spain and France.

Taking advantage of advanced foreign youth training projects, China will cultivate more talented players to fill in the gap in the domestic youth training system, Yu said, citing Jesus Carrasco as a very good example for this ambition.

Yu disclosed that his platform has signed cooperative agreements with famous foreign football clubs on the systematic training of Chinese footballers in order to boost the healthy development of Chinese football.

TV show brings more visits to museums across China

A terracotta warrior exhibited in the Museum of Qin Shihuang Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Museums in China are becoming hot tourist spots, as they are no longer regarded as solemn and distant from normal people’s life, after a TV show called “National Treasure” hit the country, news site The Paper reported on Dec. 21.

The weekly program has contributed 50 percent more searches for museums since it was first aired at the beginning of December, according Ctrip, China’s largest online travel agency.

The upward trend is expected to continue as a lot of parents are planning to take their kids to museums during the upcoming winter holiday, Ctrip forecasted.

The online tourism service provider has launched nearly 1,000 travel routes related to museums. Famous museums such as the Palace Museum, Nanjing Museum, and Shaanxi History Museum are hot spots on the travel lists of many travel agencies.

The Palace Museum, Museum of Qin Shihuang Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Shaanxi History Museum, Nanjing Museum, and Capital Museum are the five most searched museums after the show was aired, according to a ranking.

In addition, some customized services have been created to enhance tourist experience at museums, and the demand for tour guides with expertise in history and culture are on the rise.

Ctrip has also found that 10 percent of the young customers are dating in museums.

Museums are a key way for Chinese people to lean about the country’s cultural relics. “National Treasure” has ten episodes, presenting a total of 27 masterpieces from nine major Chinese museums.

Villagers in Chinese old revolutionary base area hail CPC’s achievements in 5 years

By Yang Zhenwu, Xu Jingeng, Yang Xuebo, Pan Junqiang (People’s Daily Online) 7

The article, originally written in Chinese, is published on the front page of the People’s Daily on Dec. 20, 2017.

Yimeng is an old revolutionary base area in eastern China’s Shandong province. During the war times, it served as an indestructible fortress where the local people showed unrequited support for the soldiers of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and hundreds of thousands of martyrs sacrificed themselves for the new China.

Chen Yi, the late Chinese militarist and politician and one of the 10 marshals in the Peoples Liberation Army, once noted that he would never forget the people in Yimeng, even after his death, saying they had fended the Communist revolution with the millets they grew and helped the revolution expand its influence.

During an inspection tour in Shangdong Province in December 2013, General Secretary Xi Jinping of the CPC Central Committee stressed that the Yimeng spirit, featuring an inseparable bond between the army and people, still plays a significant enlightening role in today’s Party construction.

With an aim to pay a tribute to the revolutionary martyrs and share the happiness and sorrows of the locals, People’s Daily interviewed four villagers in the region.

Women make insoles in Shilongguanzhuang village, Yiyuan county in Yimeng.

Villager Ma Jinlan: 19th CPC National Congress reassured us farmers

Ma is a 53-year-old woman working at a local toy factory who is quite satisfied with her current economic situation.

With a husband who has disability in one of his legs, the woman’s family was once stuck in financial hardship.

However, the new era has successfully freed her household from poverty.

According to her, she is now paid 20,000 RMB a year by the factory, and collects 3,000 RMB in rent from her land lease. Her husband can also earn 3,600 RMB every year by working part-time for the village. In addition, by growing cash crops on her non-contracted land, she earns an extra 4,000 RMB annually.

Ma attributed the good life to the favorable policies of the Central Government. She told People’s Daily that she has been reassured by Xi’s speech delivered at the 19th CPC National Congress, in which Xi promised that rural land contracting practices will remain stable, and the current round of contracts will be extended for another 30 years upon expiration.

“I know that Xi had worked in the countryside before, so he knows the hardships of the farmers,” Ma said, adding that she feels at ease with a General Secretary like this.

Veteran Li Xiankun: The people have been benefited a lot in the past 5 years

The 67-year-old veteran had a heart attack in 2015, the surgery for which cost more than 80,000 RMB. Though the medical insurance covered more than half of the treatment, the rest of the spending still impoverished his family.

When it rains, it pours. Last year, Li’s wife also suffered a heart attack, and the surgery took more than 120,000 RMB.

Fortunately, thanks to the favorable policy tailored for impoverished households, the government reimbursed most of the medical costs. “This huge amount of money will never be affordable for me, and we sincerely feel grateful to the Communist Party and the government,” Li said.

According to Li, he has a monthly subsidy of 1,700 RMB as a veteran.

“Increasingly concerned with the people’s livelihood in recent years, the Central Government has done a lot of practical work for the people,” Li said, adding that the people have benefited a lot in the past 5 years.

“We have all witnessed Xi’s efforts over the last 5 years,” the veteran noted, saying he must “click the like button” for the General Secretary.

The Menglianggu Campaign Monument in Yimeng

Li Yong: Xi accomplished what we expected to be done

Li Yong, 44, has been Party secretary of Chang Shanzhuang Village for three years. Li said he and his fellow villagers are inspired by the Party’s solemn promise to let the poor people and poor areas enter the moderately prosperous society together with the rest of the country, which was included in General Secretary Xi’s report to the CPC’s 19th National Congress.

Li’s village, which used to be a fortress village in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, won the title of “China’s Top 10 Most Beautiful Village.”

Years ago, Li found a job in the city, and later he started his own business and settled down in the city.

Before him, his three predecessors were all sent from provincial-level government departments to help the villagers. Following their steps, Li left his post in the city and engaged in helping fellow villagers get rid of poverty.

“My father told me you can govern a company, but you can’t always manage a village,” Li said, admitting that though he sometimes feels tired, he has made up his mind to devoting himself to the village.

Last year, Chang Shanzhuang mostly shook off poverty via rural tourism and providing scenes for over 300 movies and TV series, Li disclosed. The movie base had provided job vacancies for 170 villagers.

“With pursuing a rural vitalization strategy, safeguarding the property rights and interests of rural people, strengthening the collective economy, and other policies, President Xi’s report has injected confidence into us,” Li said.

“Coming from the old revolutionary base area, we have always followed the Party and we are confident that the Party will be a reliable one to meet its commitment to us,” Li said with confidence.

Zheng Shouzeng: Following Xi’s steps we are more confident

The general mood of the society has greatly improved since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, said Zheng Shouzeng, an elderly Party member.

Zheng, 71, has served Houli Village in the Menglianggu region in Mengyin County for 26 years, and has been a teacher for five years.

“After his election as General Secretary of the 18th CPC Central Committee in 2012, Xi conducted many research trips across the country, and set an example for all Party members to abide by the eight-point regulation,” Zheng recalled.

Before the eight-point regulation was enacted, village cadres would hold reception banquets for superior leaders at luxury restaurants in the city, but now they treat the latter with working meals, Zheng said, adding he and his fellow villagers feel delighted about this change.

Zheng said the anti-graft drive to oust corrupt officials from low-level “flies” to high-ranking “tigers” across the country is applauded by the people.

He hopes exercising strict governance over the Party will be a long-held campaign.

“Days earlier, I saw in the newspaper that new rules related to the eight-point regulation were rolled out. I believe they will be another strike on unhealthy work styles,” Li said, admitting that he has worried about the continuation of the effort to improve Party conduct and enforce Party discipline.

He further disclosed that Party members in his village are more united than before owing to tightened discipline. Now, efficacy of decision-making and the handling of village affairs are much higher than before.

“President Xi said that the CPC is the largest political party in the world. We should live up to our title,” Zheng said.

Zheng and his fellow villagers have been holding flag-raising ceremonies every day over the past four years, and wearing the Party’s emblem has become a habit for all the Party members in his village.

On Zheng’s desk lies the Party Constitution and reports about the Party. Zheng said they are not decorations, but real materials he will learn from till the end of his life.

“Without knowing the policies issued by the Party, how can we participate in political consultation in our village?”