Liu Yunshan: Down-to-earth journalist joins CPC top leadership

Updated: 2012-12-25 21:10


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Born into a peasant's family in July 1947, Liu spent most of his childhood and early adulthood in Inner Mongolia, where he learned from farmers and herdsmen and later wrote first-hand stories about them.

After he graduated from a local teachers' college in 1968, Liu taught at a rural school and participated in farm work before becoming a Xinhua journalist based in Inner Mongolia from 1975 to 1982.

He wrote many stories on agriculture and animal husbandry as well as covered many of the most vivid scenes in the countryside, including his exquisite writing about what he saw and heard during an overnight stay at a budget motel 31 years ago.

The fluent and detailed way of writing Liu showed in his story was followed by many journalists and is still considered a model for concise journalistic writing.

As a journalist, Liu traveled extensively around major farming and pastoral areas in Inner Mongolia, visiting rural households and writing stories of human interest.

Keen to notice the changes of the time, he has over the years maintained his interest in ordinary people.

The stories Liu told about ordinary people earned him a reputation among the press and he was soon picked by higher authorities amid the Party's call to select and promote younger cadres at the beginning of the reform and opening up.

He started his political career while being transferred in 1982 to the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Youth League of China.

At 38, Liu made a name for himself in China's political circles after he was elected in 1985 as one of the youngest alternate members of the 12th CPC Central Committee.

Before his promotion to head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee in 2002, Liu tempered himself in different posts successively as head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regional Committee, Party chief of Chifeng City and deputy Party chief of Inner Mongolia.

He was elected a member of the Political Bureau and the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee in 2002.

Liu's passion for ordinary people and communities has stayed with him over the years despite his transition in roles from a journalist to a senior official.

He preferred to investigate the ideological work in rural areas on his own, by train, by bus, or even hitchhiking by tractor to the homes and tents of farmers and herdsmen when he was in charge of publicity of Inner Mongolia in 1986.

"You only get words from the heart when you stay with the people," Liu once explained. "To me, it's a happy thing to hear the truth from the people."

He went deep down to the grassroots every year after he assumed posts at the central level, leaving his footprint in every province, autonomous region and municipality over the years.

To him, what he sees and experiences by himself is more convincing than what he is told.

He dislikes official jargons, empty talks or ostentation in media.

"Journalists should always be on the road, go for the scenes and to communities," Liu has said, urging the press to write short and newsworthy stories and express people's voice.

To turn things around, the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee launched a nationwide campaign in 2011, encouraging journalists to go to factories, farms, schools and local communities to cover grassroots stories and improve their style of work and writing.

"We should write stories about ordinary people and speak out for them," he once said. "Journalists should bear in mind the questions: 'For whom do I work? On whom can I depend and who am I?' Only by handling such issues properly can we seek the origin of our power and obtain support from the people with the broadest and most reliable mass base."

He has his own answer to the question of "Who am I?"

"Some people tend to lose their heads about who they really are after they are in power, have some money or fame," Liu said. "They can't put themselves in a right position in their relations with the people."

"In fact, however powerful or wealthy one person becomes, he should always be a student and a servant," he said.