Yu Zhengsheng: frank, devoted friend

Updated: 2013-03-13 07:12

By Xinhua (China Daily)

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 Yu Zhengsheng: frank, devoted friend

Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the 12th National Committee of the CPPCC, at the closing meeting of the first session of the conference on Tuesday. Zou Hong / China Daily

"If you have any questions, bring them up. If you have any problems or any worries, tell us. Only by being frank can we become devoted friends."

Yu Zhengsheng spoke those words from the heart when listening to the opinions of members of the fifth session of the eighth Hubei Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in 2002. Yu was then Hubei Party chief.

Eleven years later, on March 11, 2013, Yu was elected chairman of the 12th National Committee of the CPPCC, becoming the new leader of China's most extensive patriotic united front organization. He is the eighth chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, after Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, Deng Yingchao, Li Xiannian, Li Ruihuan and Jia Qinglin.

Seek advice with sincerity

"Long-term coexistence, mutual supervision, utter mutual devotion, and sharing weal and woe" - these are the basic principles of cooperation between the CPC and the country's non-Communist parties. Since he was elected a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Nov 15, Yu has significantly increased his interactions with each of the non-Communist parties.

In late December, although the temperature had dropped to -10 C in Beijing, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the CPC, and Yu paid visits to the central committees of China's eight non-Communist parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce in one and a half days.

At year's end, the non-Communist parties successively held meetings to choose new leaders. Yu attended the 15th National Congress of the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party, and the 11th National Congress of the China Association for Promoting Democracy. He delivered congratulatory speeches on behalf of the Central Committee of the CPC, stressing that China will adhere to and improve the CPC-led system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation, improve the system of socialist consultative democracy, and promote cooperative democracy to realize broad, multilayered, systematic development.

The CPPCC is an important institution led by the CPC for multiparty cooperation and political consultation. On March 4, when he called on members of the first session of the 12th National Committee of the CPPCC and joined in discussions, Yu stressed that the CPPCC is a political organization and form of democracy with Chinese characteristics, and China should fully realize the important purpose of the CPPCC.

Looking back at Yu's political career, one can see that he has been closely associated with the CPPCC. When Yu was Shanghai Party chief, the interaction between Yu and the municipal committee of the CPPCC left behind many memorable stories.

In 2009, Yu attended a special conference of the second session of the 11th municipal committee of the CPPCC. When the members finished speaking at the conference, Yu, according to established routine, was supposed to "deliver an important speech". However, to everyone's surprise, Yu asked the members to "put forward questions". That day, he answered all the questions of the members and warmly exchanged views with them. Yu touched on topics ranging from coping with the international financial crisis, to traffic, housing, employment and other issues concerning people's well-being.

In 2012, Yu attended the fifth meeting of the 11th Shanghai municipal committee of the CPPCC. Having listened to the speeches of the members, Yu said: "Let me open my heart to you and say what I think of Shanghai." He began by talking about a comedic entertainment program performed by the members. He then spoke glowingly about his understanding of Shanghai's culture and how Shanghai should make the best of its advantages, realize its potential and seek breakthroughs.

"This time, I've exposed my 'liver' and 'gall'," Yu said, using a Chinese phrase to mean "sincerity". "Let's put our heads together to generate more ideas!" With this, Yu concluded his speech that day.

With such sincerity and credibility, Yu has turned into a close friend of CPPCC members.

"We must give full play to the role of people outside the Party to supervise our performance. We sincerely welcome them to help us correct the shortcomings and errors in our work," Yu said. He made the remark at the annual national meeting of directors of the United Front Work Department in late December after he came to work as a member of the CPC central leadership. His words were full of sincerity, in the hope of making more intimate and forthright friends for the CPC.

Promote unity, sincere care

A few days after New Year's Day, Garze, a Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Sichuan province, on the eastern tip of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, remained enveloped in bitter cold. A guest from afar walked into the house of Chagxi Zhoema, an old man living in Qangba village, Lhagang township, in Kangding county. The guest was Yu, elected to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee 50 days before.

On Jan 6, Yu flew to Gongga Airport in Kangding, 4,200 meters above sea level. He immediately started to conduct an investigation in this prefecture - the first ethnic autonomous prefecture founded after the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Yu sat next to Chagxi Zhoema and exchanged small talk with him while holding the host's lovely child in his arms. On the second day, he braved heavy snow to travel to Laoyulin village in Lucheng town, to visit Chotsu, who had fallen into poverty because her husband suffers from uremia.

In Garze prefecture, a vast distressed area, Yu visited local people to understand their feelings. Despite being fatigued from his journey, Yu steadily pondered what he saw.

When Yu spoke with the county and prefecture officials of Garze, he did not speak in generalities, but instead put forward detailed and substantial requirements, similar to writing a "prescription". These requirements included actively developing secondary and higher vocational education to improve the competitiveness of young people in the job market; creating more job opportunities for people in Tibetan areas in China's inland region to raise family incomes through new jobs; and more.

After the 18th National Congress of the CPC, Yu assumed new responsibilities. Since then, his timetable has been dominated by ethnic groups and religious work.

In late January, Yu paid visits to nationwide religious bodies in Beijing. A few days before Spring Festival, he invited the heads of these religious groups to attend discussions in Zhongnanhai, the headquarters of the CPC. He extended Chinese New Year greetings to religious circles and the broad mass of religious believers on behalf of the CPC Central Committee and Party chief Xi Jinping. Yu also requested Party committees and governments at all levels to be attentive to the difficulties of religious groups and the lives of religious believers and to ensure that the broad mass of religious believers would enjoy a happy and peaceful holiday.

Yu, showing genuine concern and great care, is devoted to cementing the unity and cohesion of the family of the Chinese nation, and to the patriotic united front.

Unity and democracy are the two great themes of the CPPCC. Yu deeply understands this. At the national meeting of the directors of the United Front Work Department in late December, Yu made an impressive remark: "We must correctly handle the relationship between uniformity and diversity. We must always persevere in and continuously enhance common understanding as well as broad-mindedly deal with different political parties, ethnic groups, social levels, religious believers, and the masses living under different social systems, so as to realize unity based on harmony with diversity."

Taiwan compatriots

In February, Yu attended the 2013 Working Meeting on Taiwan. When speaking of "doing more practical things and good things for Taiwan compatriots", he mentioned a "major issue" concerning hairy crabs - Shanghai has exported baby hairy crabs and patented cultivation techniques to Miaoli county in Taiwan for two successive years to help it develop tourist agriculture and cater to the demands of Taiwan gourmets.

Although 1 million baby crabs is a small amount in terms of trade, in Yu's eyes it represented "a great event in terms of promoting friendly cooperation across the Taiwan Straits".

When he served as a top local leader, Yu placed great emphasis on protecting the legitimate interests and rights of Taiwan businesspeople. He was deeply concerned about the interests of Taiwan compatriots.

When Yu was the Party chief of Shanghai, the international financial crisis was spreading. Like other companies, Taiwan-funded enterprises took a big hit. Quanta Computer, a Taiwan-funded business and leading exporter on the mainland, was dragged down, too. Quanta Computer Director and Senior Vice-President Huang Chien-tang was amazed to learn that at the "most critical" moment for the company's exports, Yu asked to meet with him one-on-one.

"When he saw me, Yu asked me what problems I was having. He encouraged me to speak my mind freely. I still feel warm when reflecting on his words," said Huang.

One day in March last year, Yu paid a low-key visit to the plant of Taiwan-funded Jifu New Energy in the suburbs. He talked with workers on the production line for an hour. This wasn't the first time Yu had visited a plant incognito.

"Yu was modest. He well understood solar energy and film technology. He encouraged Taiwan businesses in the city to explore high technology and transform themselves. He replied to all the questions raised by businesses. I felt I had met a close friend in technology," said Tony Liu, general manager of Jifu New Energy.

When he worked as a local official, Yu often met with people from all circles in Taiwan. When the World Expo was held in Shanghai in 2010, Yu was personally concerned about the progress of construction on the Taiwan Pavilion and the Taipei Case Pavilion, expecting the two venues to act as bridges for cultural exchange across the Straits.

On March 7, Yu deliberated on Premier Wen Jiabao's Government Work Report with the Taiwan delegation at the first session of the 12th National People's Congress. He said efforts must be made to promote cross-Straits economic cooperation for mutual benefit, expand personnel exchanges across the Straits, deepen cultural and educational exchanges, and improve the quality and efficiency of communications.

"We must take it as the main thread of our work regarding Taiwan to unite with the mass of Taiwan compatriots, do more practical work and do more good works for them, and continue to gather momentum for peaceful development across the Straits," he said.

Seeking truth for all

Yu, scholarly and refined in his manner of speech and behavior, is a leader in the scholarly style. His ancestral home is Shaoxing, Zhejiang province. He was born in 1945 in Yan'an, Shaanxi province, a sacred place for the Chinese revolution. After graduating from Harbin Military Engineering Institute, he did technical work for 16 years.

Yu successively assumed the office of head of the China Foundation for Disabled Persons, mayor of Yantai city, mayor and Party chief of Qingdao city, construction minister, Hubei Party chief, and Shanghai Party chief. In 2002, he was elected a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and served two five-year terms since then.

"Do more practical things and solve more problems. I have no aspirations for great things. I just wish to be worthy of the country and people." This is Yu's political creed. Look for truth, be pragmatic and do solid work. These principles are what impress people most about Yu, and this is exactly how the CPPCC fulfills its function - by digging deep during investigations, combining theory with practice, and maintaining extensive links with the masses.

Yu is used to the style of conducting investigations "with light luggage and few attendants". Yu usually speaks without notes. During investigations, he prefers to ask questions rather than listen to reports. He tells the petition department and his secretary to show him any letters of substantial content or those that keenly reflect problems.

In the eyes of the public, Yu does not have the air of an official. His car license plate number was selected randomly, contrary to the common practice of adopting auspicious numbers. When going out, he tells the accompanying security vehicle to follow him, so as not to disturb people by clearing the way in front. When walking on the road, he often stops to chat with sanitation workers or tourists. He is "Old Yu" in the minds of the common people. But to many officials, he is stern and asks probing follow-up questions when anything crops up.

Yu is fond of reading. Hanging around in bookstores and at bookstalls is a hobby when he can snatch a moment of leisure amid his busy work. Yu, a veteran netizen, follows the news on the Internet every day.

Yu's parents were senior ministerial-level officials after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Yu's wife, Zhang Zhikai, is retired. The couple have a son.

After work, Yu sometimes goes to the market to buy food. He cooks when he has time. He is a man of northern China by birth, but he is passionate about southern food.

(China Daily 03/13/2013 page5)