Diary notebooks record village heads' rough road to prosperity, happiness
Zhang Guojin (second from left), the ninth and incumbent Party secretary of Chengxi village in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, works with his colleagues at the village in December. PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY
Thirty-five diary notebooks written by nine successive Party secretaries of Chengxi village, south of Taizhou city in Sanmen county in East China's Zhejiang province, record how the once poor and backward settlement became a "well-off demonstrative village" with fixed assets of 360 million yuan ($55.8 million) and a per capita income of 80,000 yuan, thanks to 64 years of effort by Communist Party of China officials.
The nine secretaries to have served the village since the establishment of the Party branch in 1957 are Zhang Zhenghe, Jin Jigui, Zhang Yiqi, Ye Jiafa, Zhang Hongjiang, Zhang Hongjun, Zhang Ping, Zhang Yijia, and Zhang Guojin.
Today, Chengxi has 795 households and a population of 2,255, of whom about 100 are CPC members, but in the 1960s, when it was still below the poverty line, villagers lived in leaky wooden houses, with insufficient food and clothing.
Then Chengxi Party secretary, Zhang Zhenghe, would often ask what villagers could do if they didn't have enough to eat. Ending this scarcity became his greatest desire, and he encouraged villagers to reclaim land, build water conservancy projects and farm scientifically. As a result, grain production increased year by year, and starvation became a thing of the past.
Secretary Zhang recorded an exciting moment that happened in one of his notebooks: "In 1963, the total grain output in the village reached 203 metric tons, a year-on-year increase of 27 percent." That year, Chengxi was named Taizhou's "food production champion".
With no more worries about food and clothing, villagers started thinking about better lives. Following the launch of the reform and opening-up policy in 1978, Chengxi threw itself into developing industry and commerce by establishing a hardware factory, a transformer fittings factory and the county's first village-level farmers market.
In 1985, the third Party secretary, Zhang Yiqi, set up a brickmaking factory. For the first time, every villager was paid an annual dividend of more than 100 yuan.
By embracing innovation, villagers left the outdated practices of the past behind, and after 30 years of development, Chengxi was able to become comparatively well-off.
In 1988, the fourth secretary, Ye Jiafa, turned his focus to technological transformation, procuring equipment, and expanding the factories and the market. Under his 17-year tenure, the number of industrial and commercial enterprises in the village rose to 25, creating job opportunities for more than half the villagers. By 1995, Chengxi ranked first in the county in terms of revenue and output.
Such social improvements raised the villagers' sense of happiness and satisfaction. Everyone now receives a year-end dividend of about 5,000 yuan. Men over 55 and women over 50 get a pension and enjoy additional benefits, such as group travel, physical examinations, and reunion dinners.
"The 35 diary notebooks are convincing footnotes, recording the village's progress from poverty to prosperity, and then to a happy life. They testify to the commitment of every village Party secretary to his original aspiration," said Zhang Guojin, Chengxi's ninth and incumbent Party secretary, adding that his mission and responsibility is to ensure that the lives of villagers become ever better, and even happier.
Cai Jingwen contributed to this story.