The nine counties and cities of Ningde Prefecture constitute one of Fujian's more impoverished regions. During their nearly two years working in Ningde, Xi Jinping and the departments under his leadership took the lead in implementing their "four grassroots initiatives," which encouraged leading officials to investigate complaints and listen to ideas at the grassroots level; to go down to the grassroots to handle official business on the spot; to work with the grassroots to conduct research and investigations; and to go down to the grassroots to publicize the Party's guiding principles and policies. Xi Jinping strongly advocated for these initiatives in 1988, while he was working in Ningde, Fujian Province.
Their detailed inspections and informed considerations of Ningde's own characteristics and history allowed them to make proposals firmly rooted in the local situation. They thoroughly did away with the current bad leadership habits of grandiose, empty, and formulaic speech. Even though after he moved on to new posts from Ningde, there is no doubt that the good conduct Xi Jinping practiced has been an inspiration to his successors, as what exists today comes from the past.
The strongest feature of Xi Jinping's writing from this period is that it never strays from the focus of economic development. He called for everyone to join forces to make full use of the geographical advantages Ningde was blessed with and form an "economic chorus," not another central task. With Ningde's relative poverty in mind, Xi Jinping repeatedly called for bold reforms and opening up.
Xi Jinping has thought deeply and carefully about many issues. He is a strong proponent of the theory of "water droplets drilling through rock" and "letting the weak hatchling be the first to fly" to encourage people to be fearless pioneers and thoroughly do away with formalism and false appearances. He wants officials to truly keep the people in their hearts. With persistence, even water droplets can drill through stone. Short-term projects with quick results can be great for poverty alleviation, but we cannot let ourselves be content with these and only focus on the short term. The work of poverty alleviation is a long-term task.
The success or failure of all work in the region is determined by the ambitions, thinking, and the working practices of those young officials in important positions who are trying to improve their backward areas. They must fully use their brains, dare to explore, and boldly push their work forward. Even if some ideas are not completely in line with the local situation and some methods may not produce immediate results, we must not be panic. Nobody can be perfect in everything they say or do. In this sense, Xi Jinping is no exception. The officials in our local prefectures, cities, counties, and townships can gain much insight from this pamphlet.
(Excerpts from forewords by Xiang Nan, a native of Liancheng, Fujian Province)