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Saturday, February 14, 2015, 11:50

Leaders visit countryside to join festival preparations

By Zhao Shengnan in Beijing and Zhao Yinan in Qiandongnan, Guizhou
 Leaders visit countryside to join festival preparations

Premier Li Keqiang buys fried sticky rice with a sweet coating at a market in Liping county in the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong autonomous prefecture of Guizhou province on Friday. (Liu Zhen / China News Service)

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, who both climbed the leadership ladder from rural areas, joined millions of residents in the countryside on Friday in preparations to mark Spring Festival.

Online photos and video clips showed Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan returning to Liangjiahe, a village in Yan'an, the Communist revolutionary base in Shaanxi province. Xi worked there as a farmer for nearly seven years before studying at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

He retraced the experiences of his youth while witnessing the massive changes that have been seen in the area.

Xi's visit was reported by Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, in a micro blog account named "Xuexifensituan" ("Learning From Xi Fan Club"). The micro blog is known for covering Xi's latest activities.

In January 1969, Xi, who was then a teenager, was among millions of young people sent from cities to work as laborers in the countryside, responding to the call of then chairman Mao Zedong.

Meanwhile on Friday, a special guest did some seasonal shopping at a market in Guizhou province as vendors prepared for a sales push ahead of Spring Festival.

Premier Li Keqiang offered Spring Festival greetings to people at Liping county market and asked for some shopping advice.

"I'm going to visit some less well-off families in the afternoon and I want to take some new year gifts with me. What are the must-haves during Spring Festival here?" Li asked vendors.

The market is the largest in the county, which lies in the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong autonomous prefecture, the traditional home of the Miao and Dong ethnic groups. With about 500 stalls, it is a major grocery supplier for about 100,000 residents.

Li bought local snacks, including smoked spicy fish and pork, fried sticky rice balls and other treats, after strolling through the market. As he was about to leave, he sent a set of digital scales to the market manager as a gift, asking him to ensure fair trading.

"There are so many people shopping here, so you have to guarantee food safety and ensure an orderly market," he said.

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