China: Jingrong Xiao

I did all this for the people and for my conscience.

— Jingrong Xiao

Xiao Jingrong has been secretary of the Party Committee of Qidafen Village, Qiaotou Town, Ongniud Banner, Chifeng in Inner Mongolia, since 1974. She has faced a great deal of hardship in her 30 years of political leadership, particularly in her struggle to lift the village out of poverty.

Qidafen Village was well-known in the region for being a place where people lived on infertile land, took charity grain sent by the state, and survived on subsidies and loans. That was the situation Xiao Jingrong faced when she first took up her position. Could she work miracles in such a poor village? Xiao soon found a solution for the village. She began by building up strong and energetic leadership cadres. The next step was to solve the problem of water supply, which was the fundamental cause of poverty and an obstacle to the development of agriculture. The poor village where Xiao lives is in a typical drought area. One has to drill down 80-100 meters into the ground before a well can supply water, and it costs 50,000 yuan per well. It was a difficult task, yet the first deep well was constructed in 1975 and it irrigated more than 300 mu (50 acres) of land and led to an increase in production of 200,000 kilograms of grain that year. Two other such wells were constructed in 1978 and 1979 and the irrigation area increased to 1000 mu (165 acres) by 1982, which represented one mu of irrigated land per capita. The gross production of grain increased dramatically from 250,000 kilograms to 1 million kilograms. Xiao Jingrong and her cadres have helped improve both the hygiene of the village and the quality of its people. Xiao’s duties include dealing with policy but also addressing things such as neighborhood quarrels, divorce, etc.

Village party secretary, Inner Mongolia