Village mourns visionary former chief

Updated: 2013-03-20 01:51

By CANG WEI in Jiangyin, Jiangsu and SONG WENWEI in Nanjing (China Daily)

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Village mourns visionary former chief

Residents of Huaxi village in Jiangsu province file past the coffin of Wu Renbao, the village's retired chief. Wu, 85, helped the village become a symbol of economic expansion through a series of iconic projects, with the villagers benefiting from shares and dividends. Wu died at his home on Monday evening after battling cancer. [Photo/Xinhua]

Village mourns visionary former chief

Wu Renbao gives a speech in Huaxi in 2009. Xu Congjun / For China Daily 

People in one of China's richest villages are in deep mourning for their former chief, Wu Renbao, who died of lung cancer on Monday afternoon.

Wu, 85, died at 6:58 pm at his home in Huaxi village of Jiangyin, Jiangsu province. The village is well known in China for its wealth and common prosperity.

In the memorial hall where Wu's body has been placed for mourners to pay homage, many villagers wailed, with tears streaming down their faces.

"I've cried several times since I heard about the death of Wu," said villager Wang Fumei. "Though he had been ill for a long time and the villagers were prepared for the upcoming sad news, many of us still could not face it when it really came."

"He's a man of the Huaxi people," said villager Zhao Zhongxiang. "Without him the village would not have become what it is today."

Since Wu's death, the lights of Huaxi's landmark — a 328-meter-high five-star hotel, have been turned off in the evening to pay respect to him.

Many local people wore black armbands and hurried to the memorial hall to pay their last respects.

The official memorial ceremony, organized by the city government of Jiangyin, will be held at 8:08 am on Friday morning, according to Sun Haiyan, deputy Party chief of Huaxi.

"To comply with Wu's wishes, no more memorial activities will be held except the official memorial ceremony," said Sun.

Huaxi's sales revenue reached 52.45 billion yuan ($8.44 billion) in 2012, according to Sun.

Huaxi, which covers 35 square kilometers and is home to 35,000 people, was developed from a poor village that occupied only 0.96 sq km. Its collective assets, when it was founded in 1961, were worth just 25,000 yuan.

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