The New President of China Xi Jinping’s Rare Interview from Year 2000 [Translated]
Via The 4th Media
An Introductory remark on the Interview by Dewang. Having just read an interview (translated by Nordic Institute of Asian Studies) of Xi Jinping when he was still governor of Fujian Province back in 2000, I am struck by the differences between the current Chinese political system versus the American. Think about Obama before becoming president. The largest budget he’s ever managed was probably his 2008 election campaign. From that, he would inherit a budget in the trillions of dollars.
In contrast, Xi went from village to cities, and then provinces. He would be placed into bigger challenges as he excelled, and not to mention, observed in the seat of the vice president for a full term before the National Peoples Congress formally anoints him into president.
As much as the Western press would like to criticize the Chinese system, it is a genuine form of meritocracy. Today’s Romney or when President Obama was still a senator would probably not stand a chance becoming president in China. I should say, it is not clear which system works better. Some take solace in the idea that anyone (okay, provided if you are somebody within the Democratic or Republican parties) can become president. Look at how dominant America has been in these last couple of centuries. If that is not testament to success, then what is? Fair point. Someone else may say, look at the last few millenia and count the number of centuries when China has been dominant. Fair point too.
Xi’s response on why he avoids public interviews is also telling the stylistic difference between the two systems. However, both systems claim to serve the people. Below is Xi’s articulation of that concept:
The old poet and calligrapher Zheng Banqiao wrote in his first poem “when your roots are deeply anchored in the mountains, no storms from any corner of the world can blow you down or make you surrender.” I would like to change some of the words based on my own experiences from my stay in the countryside saying: “when you are close to the grass roots and close to the people, no storms from any corner of the world can blow you down or make you surrender.” My seven years in the countryside have meant a lot to me. I have gained a deep knowledge of people, and that has been a decisive precondition for my later work.
An interview from 2000 with China’s Vice President Xi Jinping. Translated into Western language for the first time
At the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China to be held in November 2012, China’s Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to be elected as the new Secretary General of the party.
In August 2000, Xi Jinping gave a rare interview to the Chinese magazine Zhonghua Ernü. NIAS, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies hereby issues a translation of the interview in Danish and English. To our knowledge this the first time the interview has been translated into a Western language. The Danish version is a translation of the original interview in Chinese while the English version is translated from the Danish version. The translated interview was published in the Danish newspaper Politiken on Sunday 28 October 2012.
In the interview Xi Jinping tells about his background, his upbringing and his perception of good governance. In a personal and at times riveting way Xi Jinping explains how he during the Cultural Revolution only 15 years old was sent to the countryside for 7 years – 1,000 km away from Beijing – in order to learn from the peasants while his father was under political criticism. Moreover, Xi Jinping talks about the promotion of officials and corruption.
The interview is translated by the sinologists Carsten Boyer Thøgersen and Susanne Posborg. Carsten Boyer Thøgersen is a former Danish diplomat and Consul-General in Shanghai, posted for 20 years in China and now an associate of NIAS. Susanne Posborg, University of Aarhus, is the most often used Danish translator of Chinese novels and literature.
Researchers and news media are welcome to quote from the English translation if NIAS is stated as the source.
Nordic Institute of Asian Studies,
University of Copenhagen
On the Xi Jinping interview in 2000.
By Carsten Boyer Thøgersen and Susanne Posborg
Officially, the interview has never been promoted by the Chinese authorities. Neither in 2000 nor today. The interview is accessible on Chinese web-sites and was in February 2012 once more published in another Chinese commercial magazine, owned by a Xi’an based Chinese shareholding media company.
If interviewed today, Xi Jinping would probably have phrased himself differently. But the interview was already published 12 years ago, has been available since then and known to an increasingly larger Chinese public. What can the Chinese authorities do? They do nothing and do not comment on the interview.
Xi Jinping was 47 years old and governor of Fujian province when he gave the interview in 2000. At the time he was relatively unknown and not even a full member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. It is not often but neither unusual that a governor of a Chinese province gives a long personal interview to a Chinese magazine.
Looking back Xi Jinping gave the interview two years before the party leadership –known for its long-term planning – was to decide on younger candidates to be promoted at the party congress in 2002 and later – at the following party congress in 2007 – to select the possible successor of Hu Jintao in 2012. In 2007 Xi Jinping became a member of standing committee of the Politbureau, indicating he was to become Hu Jintao’s successor in 2012.
Giving the interview back in 2000, the purpose of Xi Jinping was hardly to make himself known as a potential young candidate for promotion. The party itself is fully aware of possible candidates for the party’s top positions and does not welcome reminders. Most likely Xi Jinping wanted to make sure that his background was fully understood, told properly and to stress three things:
1) During the Cultural Revolution he stayed for seven years in the countryside under difficult conditions and only by his own efforts became a member of the party and enrolled at university. That is to say not by political connections and in spite of the fact that his father at the time was under political criticism.
2) In 1982, he chose to give up a comfortable career in Beijing and instead started from the bottom as deputy secretary in a small provincial district.
3) To appear as a person in close contact to ordinary people.
The extraordinary thing about the interview is to hear what China’s new leader said in 2000 in an open and direct conversation. There is nothing unusual in what Xi Jinping said in 2000. Neither read in 2012. But we hear Xi Jinping tell about personal experiences in words he hardly would use today. We hear about his views on good governance, promotion of officials and corruption. The interview gives the reader a more authentic and unfiltered picture of the person to become China’s next leader.
Interview from the summer of 2000 in the Chinese journal Zhonghua Ernü.
Xi Jinping at the time was 47 years old and governor in the Fujian province.
Yang Xiaohuai was the editor of Zhonghua Ernü.
Copyright © 2000 by中华儿女,北京市朝阳区东三环南路98号韩建丹阳大厦15层,邮编：100021
Xi Jinping: Welcome here. I have previously said no thank you to personal interviews innumerable times. We all have different tasks. If you do not mention everybody, then you are only emphasizing yourself. You can also put it differently:
When we are all doing our duty within our respective area of responsibility, then it is the community that creates the results. Therefore it makes no sense mentioning the individual. That is the reason why I have refused giving personal interviews. There are also people who write autobiographies. I do not do that either.
Yang Xiaohuai: I thought so. That kind of thing can easily lead to misunderstandings.
Xi: Particularly if you look at the popular media. You write about a person’s background. Who are his parents? Who is he married to? He is such and such a person. What’s the use of that? That kind of information is not news. It is something everybody knows already. You make a little soup of it. It is immaterial.
Yang: Obviously that kind of publicity is immaterial and superfluous. But as a high-level official you are in the focus of the formation of public opinion. The press and the media can help people better understand your work. That kind of public mention I think is important.
Xi: Of course you can write about leading officials. To a certain extent. But you must preserve the sense of proportions. There is a tendency to write that a leading official is so and so perfect and so and so excellent, but in reality nobody is perfect and consummate.
Take a person and describe him as excellent. Nobody will believe it. An individual’s ability to get results on his own is limited. Without the community and without cooperation you will achieve nothing. Therefore I believe that it is better to focus on the community and cooperation.
Yang: You recently took the post as governor of the Fujian province. What new political initiatives did you consider, and what parts of the politics in progress did you wish to continue?
Xi: When I became governor in August last year, the members of the provincial government emphasized two points: Firstly that I was to continue working on the foundations laid by the previous governor. It was my task seeing to it that the plans laid down at the beginning of the year were carried through. In addition I could come with my own plans.
When you have just taken over a new job you will also want to set your own agenda in the first year. But it must be on the foundations of your predecessor. It is like a relay race. You have to receive the baton properly and then yourself run it in goal.
The second point: Of course a provincial governor has an important position. But he is just one person. A provincial government consists of a governor, several deputy governors and many colleagues in the various departments. If you are to achieve results, everybody must pull in the same direction.
Furthermore it is important that you make sure you have the cooperation and back-up of the whole province.
Yang: When you were sent to Ningde county as a leader, I have heard that you did not tear along ostentatiously, as many other leaders do when they come to a new place. You did not come sweeping with new brooms to make room for your own special projects. You did not use big words but proceeded slowly and patiently.
Xi: When I was sent to Ningde, I had been vice mayor in Xiamen for three years. For a brief period I was also acting leader of the city. I had worked to develop Xiamen’s economic reform policy and to build the city’s large industrial zone. The provincial leadership was happy about my efforts and my experiences getting things going, so they decided to appoint me leader of Ningde county.
At the time Jia Qinglin was deputy secretary of the party committee of the Fujian province. He called me for a meeting and said: “We want you to go to Ningde county to get things going and change the profile of the county. The level is low and development has been far too slow.
We have had many meetings, bur Ningde is still the poorest county of the province. There is no spirit there, just empty words. You must do something extraordinary, so that the situation in the county will be changed.” Both the party leader of the province Chen Guangyi and governor Wang Zhaoguo supported me with much advice.
The first thing I did in Ningde was familiarizing myself thoroughly with things. I was filled with admiration for its people. They had for several years worked hard and laboriously and had made a great effort. In Ningde they had built the first medium-sized hydroelectric power station of the province.
From here electricity was led on to the whole province and to the urban centres. You could see that people in Ningde had diligently given their contribution to the economic development of the province. It wasn’t that people did not work, but the natural conditions of the county had its limitations.
Of course there were also things that could be done better. Many things were still in the old grove, and original thinking was lacking.
But just as I had come to Ningde inflation rose, the economy became overheated, and the central government implemented a strict economic policy. The economic situation allowed no extraordinary economic initiatives. Everybody wanted a change and hoped that I could contribute to it.
But I had no smart theoretical solution and did not come with a miracle. Therefore the only thing I could say was that the economic crisis was an occasion and a motivation for everybody to join hands. My greatest worry was that we should plunge into unsafe projects.
The time was not for that. It would have been easy to make a rousing and enthusiastic speech, arouse their enthusiasm and utilize everybody’s motivation to pitch into work. But that might easily have resulted in grave disappointment. So that wasn’t what I did.
My procedure was to light a small fire to warm up the water, keep the fire burning and now and again pour some more cold water in, so that the kettle did not boil over. People told me that they wanted to get three great projects going:
Building a harbour at Sandu´ao, establishing a railway-line to Ningde and putting greater emphasis on developing the cities in the county. I answered that that kind of project needed developing slowly, as our economic foundation was still weak, and that we should not aim too high. At first we had to analyse the facts and create a robust economic foundation. Even if it takes a long time even ‘a drop can hollow out a stone’.
The last thing I have heard is that my plans for the development of the county did not miss the mark. After 12 years of thorough preparations the State Council has now approved prioritizing developing the cities. A railway line has been projected, while building a harbour is still being made researches into. Praxis has shown that with Ningde’s conditions no miracle will happen overnight.
There were several challenges, and it was a steady pull. But as in the race between the tortoise and the hare you may finally reach the goal and win. Carrying out the plans took a long time, and I myself did not count on leaving Ningde at once.
I set four goals for myself: To encourage thinking along new lines, building a solid group of leaders, taking initiatives to fight poverty and exploiting Ningde’s special economic possibilities as a mountainous area near the coast.
I left Ningde after two years because the provincial government wanted me back here in Fuzhou. Even if my time in Ningde was brief, I came to love the place very much. Now many years later, Ningde is still one of the places that I am greatly attached to.
Yang: These years several people talk about many officials coming with ‘new brooms’ to a new job, get a couple of new projects going to leave again after a short period. You yourself have talked about how important it is having patience. I have visited a good many places but have only met very few officials thinking like you. Many people believe that officials first and foremost aim at a success to get promoted and to create results to further their own career. Do you have any comments on that?
Xi: Promotion is only something external. If a promotion is well founded, it is only one of several signs that the individual has achieved results in his work. A promotion can be seen as an expression of recognition from management and colleagues. But you must remember that promotion in itself is not the full and true assessment of an official as a person.
Promotion alone does not tell the whole story about an official. Our system of assessment is still not perfect and makes evaluating an official very difficult. Both subjective and objective factors come in, and in the final analysis that means that the assessment is imperfect.
When I have left a post, I have always thought back on my colleagues, I have summed up my impressions and found that I also sometimes have posted my colleagues wrongly. Some were posted wrongly because I thought they were better than they actually were, others because I thought they were poorer than they actually were.
That was because I did not compare their efforts and immediate progress with their personal motivation. Therefore one may easily happen to promote the wrong colleagues if one does not view their efforts in a larger perspective. As an organization and as management we do not have a final set of criteria when it comes to assessing a colleague and deciding if the person in question is to be promoted.
Yang: Of course I do not know your entire background, but you have had a career as an official for over 20 years. Is it not true that – unlike some officials who have promotion as their ultimate goal – you have a fundamental wish to do something good for society?
Xi: That is true. It is a highly relevant question. It is about a decisive choice in life, which I myself – already before I went into politics – thought a lot about.
First and foremost over such questions as: Which way do you want to go? What do you want to do with your life? What goals do you want to achieve? Personally I set several goals. One of them was doing something important for society. When that is the goal of your life, you must at the same time be aware that you can’t have your cake and eat it. If you go into politics, it mustn’t be for money.
Sun Yatsen said the same thing, namely that one has to make up one’s mind to accomplish something and not go for a high position as an official. If you wish to make money, there are many legal ways of becoming rich. Becoming rich in a legal way is worth all honour and respect.
Later the taxation authorities will also respect you because you are contributing to the economic development of the country. But you should not go into politics if you wish to become wealthy. In that case you will inevitably become a corrupt and filthy official.
A corrupt official with a bad reputation who will always be afraid of being arrested, and who must envisage having a bad posthumous reputation.
If you go into politics to make a career, you must give up any thought of personal advantages. That is out of the question. An official may not through a long career have achieved very great things, but at least he has not put something up his sleeve. He is upright. In a political career you can never go for personal advantages or promotion. It is just like that. It can’t be done. These are the rules.
You do not promote a person just because he has good qualifications and experience. Of course qualifications are important, as are a great sense of responsibility and a great knowledge. But it must be seen in a larger context.
When you are to choose a person who is to get an important position, and who can make a difference, you must also see it in connection with the time, place, other colleagues and the situation in general. So there is no definite formula which you can use to figure out who is to get promoted.
If throughout your career you have unsuccessfully tried to achieve success, it may be a great personal disappointment that you fail to get promoted. But as the old Master Guan said: Do not try to do the impossible, do not strive for the unobtainable, do not rest on the transient, do not do what cannot be repeated.
You should not be afraid of difficulties and challenges when you have prepared yourself thoroughly. Politics is both unsafe and risky, and wilfulness is no passable road. Many who have experienced failures are hit by self-reproaches thinking: “I have helped so many people, I have done so much, and all I get is ingratitude. There are so many people who do not understand me.
Why must it be like that?” Some of my colleagues who started at the same time as I have given up their jobs for that reason. If you have a position somewhere, the thing is to stick to it and continue one’s work. Then, in the final analysis, it will give results. The germ of success is to fasten on and continue one’s work.
Once you have gone into politics, it is like crossing a river. No matter how many obstacles you meet, there is only one way, and that is further on. I myself have also come across many difficulties and obstacles. That is simply inevitable.
Yang: I have been told that you originally worked in The Central Military Commission in Beijing. For many people this would be an ideal job. But nevertheless, after a brief employment, you chose to leave your job to work at grass-roots level. Why?
Xi: There were many who did not understand me at the time. Before I went to the county of Zhending in the province of Hebei, I worked as a secretary for defence minister Geng Biao, who was also a member of the Politbureau. He said that if I wanted to work at a grass roots level, I might follow the army on its exercises. I did not have to work for a local government.
Before leaving Beijing I was around saying goodbye to friends and acquaintances. Many of them had been sent to the countryside during the “Cultural Revolution” – to all kind of places – and were now at length back into town again. Some of them thought that they had had a very hard time.
There were also those who thought that now their time had come. Now it was their time to live a good life. It disappointed me to hear that. They would not move outside a radius of 50 kilometres from Beijing, for then they would lose their official register address in Beijing.
But I said that we should go out with the same commitment and enthusiasm as generations of officials before us had done.
During the “Cultural Revolution” we were sent out into the countryside. We had no choice; it was something we were forced to. It is a part of our history from which we have learned a lot.
Today we have good times and have put that kind of ‘leftist’ policy behind us. But we still need to go to the countryside, be diligent and do a good job.
The old poet and calligrapher Zheng Banqiao wrote in his first poem “when your roots are deeply anchored in the mountains, no storms from any corner of the world can blow you down or make you surrender.” I would like to change some of the words based on my own experiences from my stay in the countryside saying:
“when you are close to the grass roots and close to the people, no storms from any corner of the world can blow you down or make you surrender.”
My seven years in the countryside have meant a lot to me. I have gained a deep knowledge of people, and that has been a decisive precondition for my later work. If I again am to work at grass roots level, I will not hesitate for a moment and do it with great confidence.
Even if much always will be unpredictable, every day will be rich in experiences and challenges. I would certainly again like to work at grass roots level if I am asked to and my health is all right. In the final analysis anyone can assess my work and my successors will be able to evaluate my achievements. I need not think of that.
Yang: I have understood that through more than 20 years – whether it was at a village level, in counties, in regions or in cities like Fuzhou – you have always had a very good cooperation. How did you manage to achieve that cooperation?
Xi: Cooperation was something I learned at home as a child. My father often talked about it, telling us children already when we were quite small that we should be good at cooperating. “Do not do to others what you do not want others to do to you.” “Behave decently to others and then you yourself are a decent human being.”
These were the phrases he would use to emphasise that you should not just think about your own view of things but also about what others believed. When you live with other people and only follow your own opinion, things will go badly. What my father said has meant a lot to me.
No matter whether it was at school or when Í worked in the countryside, I have had a strong feeling that if everybody cooperates, then you will achieve good results. If cooperation is bad, it is bad for everybody.
But I have also made mistakes that I have learned from. When I was sent to the countryside, I was very young. It was something I was forced to. At the time I did not think very far and did not at all think of the importance of cooperating. While others in the village every day went up the mountain slopes and worked, I did as I chose, and people got a very bad impression of me.
Some months later I was sent back to Beijing and placed in a “study group”. When six months later I was let out, I thought a lot about whether I should return to the village. At last I called upon my uncle, who before 1949 had worked in a base area in the Taihang Mountains. At the time he, my aunt and my mother were active in revolutionary work.
All of them are people who have meant a lot to me. My uncle told me about his work then, and about how decisive it is to cooperate with the people among whom you are.
That settled it. I went back to the village, got down to work and cooperated. In a matter of a year I did the same work as people in the village, lived in the same way as they and worked hard. People saw that I had changed. They accepted me and began passing by the cave in which I lived,which soon became a rendezvous. It must have been around 1970.
Every night people of all ages would turn up. I would tell them what I knew of China’s history and the history of the world. They would like to hear someone from the city tell them about something they did not know about. At last the leader of the village came and listened. He said that young people knew much more than he himself.
Slowly the village gained confidence in me. Even if I was not more than 16 or 17 years old, several of the old people began asking for my advice. Today writers write about how miserable lives the young students led in the countryside then. It wasn’t like that for me. In the beginning it was hard, but I got used to life in the village, and as people got confidence in me, I had a good life.
Yang: I have been told that you were promoted in the village. First you became a member of the production team, then a member of the party, and at a time you became party secretary in the village, although your family background was a political problem. Can you tell me some more about that?
Xi: It was around 1973. The entrance examinations to the party were taken place, but those who had a family background like mine were not accepted. At last I was permitted to go to the Zhaojia He production brigade in the Fengjia Ping people’s commune to study. It was very exciting.
At the time I had become a member of a production brigade but not yet a member of the party. I had already written ten applications for membership of the party, but because of my family history my application was not approved. The people’s commune then sent my application on to the party secretary of the county to hear his opinion. He said that my family background was a great problem. Finding a solution was difficult for them.
On the other hand he also thought that the village needed me to lead the work, so he ended deciding that my father’s situation should be of no importance for my admission into the party. He approved my application and then sent me back as party secretary of the production brigade of the village.
Before that I had also had great difficulties becoming a member of the production team. I only succeeded after having applied eight times. When I had written the first application, I invited the leader of the production team of the village home and offered him omelette and steamed wheat balls. After we had eaten I asked: “Have you sent my application on?”
“How sent on? From above everybody say that you should teach children.”
“What do you mean by saying that I should teach children?”
“From above they say that you have not distanced yourself clearly from your family.”
“So what is the decision? It is about a human being. There must be a decision. What is the decision about my father? What documents have you had from the central authorities?”
“No, the application has not been sent on, but now it will be.”
When he came back from the people’s commune he told me that the secretary of the people’s commune had scolded him saying that he had not understood a thing, and had asked if he really wanted to send the application on from such a person? I asked:
“Such a person? What does that mean? Have I written something reactionary or shouted reactionary slogans? I am just a young man asking to be admitted into a production team. Tell me what is wrong with that?”
I was not knocked out and wrote my second application in the next days, gave it to the production team leader asking him to send it on. I continued like that until I had written eight applications. I did not lose heart and had no feelings of inferiority. I just thought that there were more good than bad people in the party and the commune. I told the production team leader that without his accept I would not become a member.
When I had written eight applications I was finally approved as a member. But it only happened after I had had the support of the leader of the production brigade of the people’s commune. He came to the village and talked to me for five days. We came close and became really good friends.
When shortly afterwards he took over the job as the leader of the out-of-school education of the people’s commune, he was also the one who took the “black material’’ about me and simply burned it. It happened in the way that he took me up into the mountains to a small ravine. We sat down, and he said:
“I have all the “black material” about you right here.”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“I’ll burn it.”
“You must be out of your mind.”
“May be, but I can see that it was sent from your school in Beijing.”
That was true. For I had been expelled from the high school for children of high ranking party members and then caught by Kang Sheng’s wife Cao Yi’ou’s red guard group, who accused me of all manner of bad things. I was called a gang leader because I was stubborn, and because I said that I had done nothing wrong. I did not want to be kicked around and did not give in to the red guards. I was only 14. The red guards asked:
“How serious do you yourself think your crimes are?”
“You can estimate it yourselves. Is it enough to execute me?”
“We can execute you a hundred times.”
To my mind there was no difference between being executed a hundred times or once, so why be afraid of a hundred times? The red guards wanted to scare me saying that now I was to feel the democratic dictatorship of the people, and that I only had five minutes left. Afterwards they said that I was to read quotations from Chairman Mao every single day until late at night.
Then they decided to send me to a youth prison. But it turned out that the youth prison did not have a study program for “black gangs”, and moreover, that there were no vacancies until a month later. A
t the same time – it was in December 1968 – Chairman Mao issued a new instruction:
Young students should be sent into the countryside to learn from the peasants. I immediately went to the school to be sent into the countryside so that I could follow Chairman Mao’s instruction. They considered that at the school eventually deciding that I was to go to Yan’an. It was like being sent into exile.
After many difficulties one way or another – problems because of the “Cultural Revolution” and problems with the decision to send students to the countryside – it turned out that the village actually needed me and would not do without me. So I felt at ease in the village. If at the time I had been in the cities, as a worker or anything else, I would have been criticized every single day, as the “Cultural Revolution” was a lot more violent in the cities.
In the village in northern Shaanxi we also participated in meetings criticizing Liu Shaoqi’s and Deng Xiaoping’s representatives in north-western China “Peng, Gao and Xi”, Liu Lantao, Zhao Shouyi and others. “Peng, Gao and Xi” were Peng Dehuai, Gao Gang and Xi Zhongxun.
During these daily meetings of criticism the praxis was that those who could read were asked to read aloud from the newspapers. I was asked to do that as well. That was all. The villagers were very understanding. It was my father’s old base area. Before 1949 he had – 19 years old – been president of the “Shaanxi-Gansu Soviet.” Therefore many people would care for me and help me. I myself was also very motivated. That was what it was like.
Yang: You have told about your seven years’ experiences in the countryside. Can you tell me about the most important experience you have had?
Xi: I grew up in the seven years I was in Shaanxi. I learned two important things. First I had the opportunity to understand what real life looks like, what is right and wrong, and who ordinary people are. These were experiences for life.
Right as I had arrived at the village, many beggars would often appear. As soon as they turned up, the dogs would be set on them. At the time we students had the opinion that all beggars were “bad elements” and tramps. We did not know the saying “in January there is still enough food, in February you will starve, and March and April you are half alive half dead”.
For six months all families would only live on bark and herbs. Women and children were sent out to beg, so that the food could go to those who were working in the fields with the spring ploughing. You had to live in a village to understand it. When you think of the difference there was at that time between what the central government in Beijing knew and what actually happened in the countryside, you must shake your head.
Second, I had my self confidence built up. As they say: the knife is sharpened on a stone, people are strengthened in adversity. Seven years of hard life in the countryside developed me a lot. When later in life I have encountered challenges, I have thought about the village, and that then I could do something in spite of hardships.
When later I have come across problems, I have never experienced them as big as then. Every man is to find his own strength. When you meet hardships you mustn’t panic, no matter how big the challenge is.
Yang: How did you manage to get admitted into university while you were in the village?
Xi: At the time I was one of the leaders in the village, but all the time I thought that I would study further. Although I read far too few books, I had not given up my greatest wish – to go to university. At the time the Tsinghua University had given two places to the Yan’an county.
One of them went to the district in which I lived. There were three of us who applied. I said that If you choose me, I will go, if not, never mind. The education committee of Yan’an supported my application. But the people from Tsinghua University who had come to Yan’an, and who were responsible for the procedure of admission, dared not make a final decision and asked for instruction from the management of the university.
At the same time – it was in the autumn of 1975 – a political campaign started against what they called “the attempts of the right wing to change the foundations of the Cultural Revolution”. At the time my father worked in a factory in Luoyang.
The factory submitted a document stating that the political question of Xi Zhongxun was a contradiction within the people and should have no influence on his children’s careers.
The document meant that I was admitted into the university. When I left the village, some of the other students were envious of me. They were all of them top students, but they did not have a case that needed re-opening, and all of them were admitted later.
The experiences from my time in the countryside have left a deep impression. They have given me an understanding of the concept of The yellow earth. When later I have had problems and thought of The yellow earth, then these problems have all become smaller.
Yang: That is to say that the most important thing in life is the conviction that you have a clear purpose with your life. That you know what to do and what not to, so that you never go the wrong way?
Xi: That is very true. You have to make your own decisions yourself. You can only make the right choice if you are true towards your own ideals and your convictions. If you are not, your surroundings may easily lead you in a wrong direction.
Yang: As far as I know, you are still in close contact with the group of former students who are closely attached to The yellow earth. With them you do what you can for the local people, and the group has done a lot to promote local development.
Xi: In my village there was no electricity. After I had left it, I helped seeing to it that a transformer station was built, so that they had electricity.
Some years ago I also helped the village repairing the school and a bridge. I did not have the money to help them myself, but I helped them formulate and introduce the projects and discuss them with local leaders, so that they could understand how important the projects were.
Later on they decided to carry them through. Even if poverty was massive in the village, they cared well for me for many years. Therefore it is natural that I should do something for the peasants in Yan’an.
Yang: I noticed that as Fujian’s provincial governor, in your speech to the people’s congress in January this year – according to the media – you emphasized that the government must make sure that every single official must remember that the power of the People’s Government comes from the people, that they must represent and be of benefit to the people, and in particular that they should not forget that before the word “government” there is another word “the people’s”. The applause of the assembly was great. The media also emphasised the fact that you were re-elected with a large majority.
Xi: To us communists it is so that ordinary people are like our father and mother. They are the ones to feed and clothe us. We must understand the full significance of the expression Serve the people. The total policies and directions of the Party and Government must be in full agreement with the people’s interests and be of the highest standard.
We must always remind ourselves that we are the people’s servants, that we have the people’s need for clothes, food and decent living conditions at heart, and that we have the people’s support, backup and approval in everything we do. As you love your father and mother, you should love the people, be of use and create a good life for everybody.
We should not be above the people, but should make sure that the people lead decent lives. Even in the old feudal society they said that “an official must create progress for the people.” So it cannot be too much to demand that we communists must be aware of the welfare of the people, can it?
Yang: It has been an interesting conversation. Thank you very much for the interview.
Translated from Danish into English by Torben Vestergaard©, professor in English Literature and Language, University of Aalborg, Denmark
The Danish text was translated by Carsten Boyer Thøgersen and Susanne Posborg© from:
陕西华商传媒集团有限责任公司ISSN: 1009-8747, CN: CN61-1381/C.
Around 95 per cent of the full interview is translated. Expressions and concepts which are primarily only understood by Chinese readers have been either omitted or modified. Footnotes have been added by the translators.
Click here for Danish version
Click here for the original text in Chinese
 The interview takes place in Fuzhou, the provincial capital of Fujian.
 Ningde is one of the nine counties of the Fujian province. Ningde has a population of 2.8 million and an area of 13,500 km2.
 Xiamen is the biggest commercial city of the province of Fujian with a population of 3.5 million and an area of 1,700 km2.
 Well-known leader in China. In 2000 Jia Qinglin was Beijing’s party secretary. From 2002 to 2012 Jia Qinglin was member of the communist party’s politbureau’s standing committee of 9 members, Chinas topmost leadership organ.
 Chen Guangyi, born in 1933, was a member of the Central Committee of the party from 1982 to 2002.
 Wang Zhaoguo, born in 1941, was a member of the Politbureau from 2002 to 2012.
 Sandu`ao is an island off Ningde.
 Sun Yatsen (1866-1925) founded the Kuomintang Party/KMT (Guomindang) and in 1911 became China’s first president.
 Guanzi (also known as Guan Zhong) about 720-645 bC. High Ranking civil servant and reformer in the stat of Qi.
 Geng Biao, 1909-2000, joined the communist party in 1925. After 1949 Geng had leading posts in the army, the government and the diplomacy.
 Xi Jinping did not follow the advice but precisely got employment with a local government.
 Zheng Banqiao (also known as Zheng Xie) 1693-1765 was a well known poet and calligrapher in the Qing dynasty.
 A mountain range in the southern part of the Shanxi province.
 It is normal in Northern Shaanxi that villagers’ dwellings are dug or hewed into the loess slopes.
 In a people’s commune, the production team was the basic accounting and farm production unit, the next higher level was the production brigade.
 At that time China’s minister of security.
 Mao Zedong, 1893-1976, chairman of China’s communist party 1935-1976.
 At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping had the posts as China’s President and Secretary General of China’s communist party respectively.
 Xi Zhongxun, 1913-2002, was Xi Jinping’s father.
 The Shaanxi-Gansu Soviet was a large area in North Western China Controlled by China’s Communist Party.
 The Tsinghua University in Beijing is one of China’s leading universities.
 The poor loess plateau in the Shaanxi province.
 Lao Bai Xing. (The old one hundred family names = the man in the street).
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习：欢迎你们来。从我个人来说，这么多年来，对我个人的采访，我拒绝了有100次以上。我不愿意宣传个人，因为我们都在工作岗位上，你不宣传大家都在注意 你了。从另一方面说，我们做了一些工作，那是应尽的职责；我们有了成长进步，也都是党和人民培养的结果，个人没有什么好宣传的，所以有关宣传个人的采访我 都推掉了。还有人要写传记，我也都全部推掉。
习：领导干部不是不可以宣传，但是不能多，并要把握好分寸。现在有一种倾向，一写领导干部就要将你写得多么完美，多么高大，要知道，世界上是没有至善至美 的东西的，你把一个人写得完美了，人们就不相信了。同时，一个人的能力是有限的，离开人民群众，离开领导集体，你将一事无成。所以，我认为还是多宣传人民 群众、多宣传领导班子集体为好。
习：去年8月我刚来省政府任代省长的时候，就在省政府成员会议上强调了两点：第一点，我是在前任省长打下的基础上做工作，要按照年初的工作思路和部署把全 年的工作做好，不能就此划线，什么都要搞自己的。当然，既然是履新嘛，在新的一年里总要做些新事，但必须明确这是在前任的基础上做好自己这一任的事。这是 个接力赛，要接好接力棒，跑好自己这一棒。
第二点，一个省长，地位固然很重要，他也只是一分子。首先要认清大前提，是在省委领导下开展工作；同时还要看到，省政府里面有省长、诸位副省长和诸多的政 府成员单位，大家形成合力，才能干好工作。除此之外，还要靠全社会方方面面的支持和配合。所以，我们一直强调集体主义精神，这正是中华民族的凝聚力所在， 也是我们共产党人一贯坚持的优良作风。
习：我当时去的背景是这样的，我在厦门任了3年副市长，其中后一段时间负责常务工作，在改革开放和推动特区建设方面做了一些工作。省委看到我在厦门有一些 开拓精神，也有一些这方面的经验，省委决定调我任宁德地委书记。贾庆林同志那时是省委副书记兼组织部长，他找我谈话，说：“省委想让你到宁德去冲一下，改 变那里的面貌。宁德地区基础差，发展慢，开什么会议都坐最后一排，因为总排老九嘛（福建省有九个地市），没有实力，说话气不粗。你去之后，要采取一些超常 措施，把这个状况改变一下。”当时的省委书记陈光毅和省长王兆国同志都非常支持和鼓励我。到宁德之后，经过调查研究，我对那里的群众肃然起敬。这么多年面 对贫困，他们有一种愚公移山和无私奉献的精神。闽东过去是革命名区，为革命做出了很大牺牲；解放后又变成东海前线，最好的良港作为军港；古田溪水电站，全 省最早的一个中型水电站，电是调到全省用的，供应中心城市用。可见，这边的群众是很有奉献精神的，对全省经济社会发展做出了贡献。我感觉到，当地的群众不 是不努力，确实有自然条件的制约和限制。当然，不足的地方也有，主要是思想不够开拓，墨守成规。
我去了以后，马上就遇到通货膨胀、经济过热，党中央、国务院决定要治理整顿，大气候不利于采取超常措施。看到大家的心情是希望变，希望我来了以后带着大家 变，没有看到我来了也是“光棍”一条，不可能给他们带来什么奇迹。所以，我只能讲，治理整顿也是一种机遇，把大家心气提一提。我当时主要的思想是：这时候 不能炒热。一般讲，刚来的时候，说一些让大家热血沸腾的话很容易，趁大家的劲“踢三脚”也容易，但是这个劲一挑起来，接着将是巨大的失望，我不能做这种事 情。所以，我采取的办法是小火烧温水，常烧不断火，有时还给添点冷水，而不是烧三把火。他们给我讲闽东要干三件大事：开发三都澳港口、修建主温铁路、（撤 地区）建市。我说，这些事要慢点来，因为我们的经济基础薄弱，不可好高鹜远，还是要按实事求是的原则办事，多做一些扎扎实实打基础的工作。弱鸟先飞，滴水 穿石，只要我们有这种精神，就一定能够赶上去。最后来看，我的看法还是贴近实际的，经过12年的奋斗，撤地建市国务院刚批下来，铁路开始筹划了，建三都澳 港口还在论证之中。实践证明，在闽东这样的基础上，不可能在一夜之间出现什么奇迹。弱鸟先飞，滴水穿石，我就是在这样一种情况下成长起来的。少走弯路，就 像龟兔赛跑，你还是可以取胜的。当然，这些都要有长期打算，我并没有打算很早离开闽东。在闽东我主要抓了四件事：一是解放思想，理清发展思路；二是培养一 支好的干部队伍；三是实实在在地抓扶贫；四是从闽东山海兼而有之的特点出发，念好“山海经”，抓好山海综合开发。在闽东干了两年，省委又调我到福州来工 作。在闽东时间虽短，但是工作体会很深，跟大家感情很好。离开这么多年了，闽东还是我最感亲切的地方。
杨：这些年有这么一个问题，就是有些干部容易产生刚才你说的“烧三把火”、“踢前三脚”，做成一两件事后就走人的倾向。说到滴水穿石的精神，我访问过不少 地方，很少有人这样想。大家都想大干快上，在短期内把这个地方搞好，在一些人中就出现了急功近利的倾向。因为在许多人看来，干部成功的一个重要标志就是升 职，只有搞出来政绩才好升职。您对此如何认识?
在用干部方面，我离开一个地方以后，都要回顾一下，总结一下，感到也有用错人的时候。在用错的人中，既有看不准的好人，也有看不准的坏人。因为在他的表现 里，某一政绩和暂时的一种进步与他的动机的内在联系，有的时候还不能很清楚地联结起来，凭一时的政绩和表现来选拔干部，就有可能会用错人。所以，无论从组 织还是从干部个人来讲，都不能将升职作为评价干部工作优劣和事业是否成功的根本标准。
习：是的。这个问题非常重要，实际上是一个人生座标怎么定的问题。在从政之前，我曾冷静地考虑过这个问题。因为我认为在第一步跨入政界之前，首先要在思想 上弄清楚这个问题，这就是你要走的是什么路?你所追求需求的是什么?我当日对自己定了这么几条一是要立志当“公仆”做大事。熊掌和鱼不可兼得，从政就不要 想发财。正如孙中山讲的，要立志做大事，不要做大官。你如果想发财，合法致富的路很多，那种合法致富既发财又光荣，将来税务部门还要给你授奖，因为你促进 了社会主义市场经济发展。而你既要从政，又想发财，就只能去当让人指脊梁骨的脏官、贪官，既名声不好，又胆颤心惊，总怕被人捉住，最后落个不好的下场。所 以，要从政，就是一种事业的追求，就得舍弃个人的私利，不能什么好处都想得。一个人也许一辈子成就不了什么大的事业，但最起码他是两袖清风，一身正气。二 是在从政的整个过程之中，不要把个人的发展、升迁作为志在必得的东西。因为这是不可能的，没有这种公式，没有这种规律。升迁并不是因为你这个人有多大本 事，或者你这个人有多大背景，就可以必得的。本事也罢，或者是强烈的责任心、非凡的智慧也罢，它只是其中的一个因素，而且它还要和当时的天时、地利、人和 条件相配合，看哪一个起主要的作用，哪一个起配合作用。这些都不是一种定数，不是用数字可能推算出来的。譬如讲，你要想当将军，首先必须能够打胜仗，因为 只打败仗的军人非但当不了将军，还有可能会出师未捷身先死。同时，你具有了打胜仗的本领，也不可能天天有仗打，特别是在和平时期更是如此。有了仗打，就有 了机遇。这也就是说，只有你将机遇和成功的要素集于一身的时候，你的追求才有可能实现，这是很难的。如果你主动去追求，终生不得志，将会很失望、很痛苦 的，这就要对升迁问题怀平常心，像古人管子所说的的那样，“不为不可成，不求不可得，不处不可久，不行不可复。”三是要有不怕艰难险阻，持之以恒干工作的 准备。从政是一条风险很大、自主性不是很强的路。尤其是受了挫折以后，一些人极容易产生自怨自艾的想法：我为谁阿，我这么干还要受到这么多的冷遇，这么多 的不理解，何必呢？一些当时跟我们一起从政的人就因此而离去了。在一个地方干下去，只要你坚持下去，最后都会有所成就。成功的规律就是一以贯之地干下去。 所以，既然走上这条路，那你不论遇到多少艰难险阻，都要像当过河卒子那样，拼命向前。我的从政道路中也有坎坷、艰辛、考验和挑战，没有这些是不可能的。
到河北后，地委书记谢峰同志找我谈话，那是一位非常朴实的地委书记，解放初，20多岁就当了张家口地区专员，后来任河北省省长。我说，你对我有什么要求？ 他说，“既然你能下来走这步路，我想我就不必嘱咐了，你也不是那种草率从事的人。我就嘱咐你一条，就是你当年在农村之所以干起来，那是因为你置于死地而后 生。我听了你的经历，你当时被打成‘反动学生’，最后像‘四类分子’一样下到那里，举目无亲，你是华山一条路，必须走下去，也可能这样你就成功了。但现在 你不同了，你是本人选择下来的，人家可能不会理解。”
当时，确实有许多人对我的选择不理解。因为我在到河北之前是给耿飚同志当秘书，他当时是国防部长，又是政治局委员。他说，想下基层可以到野战部队去，不必 非要去地方下基层。那时候从北京下去的人，实际上就是刘源和我。他是北师大毕业，要下去。我是在中央机关工作了几年，我也要下去，我们俩是不谋而合。刘源 当时去了河南。走之前也参加了好几个聚会。许多人对我们的选择不理解，问我怎么现在还下去，当时在我们这一批人中有一种从红土地、黑土地、黄土地、绿草原 上终于回来了的感觉，有些人认为“文革”吃够了苦头，现在不能再亏了；还有一些人存在着要求“补偿”的心理，寻求及时行乐，我对他们的不解感到悲哀。古时 候“十年寒窗，一举成名”，中个进士，谋个外放，千里万里他都去。像古时写《三言》的那个冯梦龙，到福建寿宁任知县时都快50岁了。那时候怎么去的寿宁？ 万重山啊，我们现在还不如古时候的士大夫。更可怜的是，我们的活动范围半径不过50公里，离不开北京，不愿意出去把北京的户口丢了。我说，我们要出来，当 年老一辈出去，是慷慨激昂。我们在“文化大革命”中“上山下乡”，是迫不得已。但在这种不得已里头，使我们学到、体会到了很多的东西。现在一切都好了，那 些禁锢我们的“左”的东西都解除了，我们更要去奋斗、努力，好好干一番事业。古人郑板桥有首咏竹石的名诗“咬定青山不放松，立根原在破岩中；千磨万击还坚 劲，管尔东西南北风。”我想将之改几个字，作为我上山下乡的最深刻体会：深入基层不放松，立根原在群众中；千磨万击还坚劲，管尔东西南北风。基层离群众员 近，最能磨炼人。7年上山下乡的经历使男获益匪浅，同群众结下了较深的情谊，为成长进步打下了比较好的基础。
习：省里有一位老领导集一身之经历，写了个一生从政的体会——《团结学》。尽管各种因素在任何时候都起决定的作用，但是在各种情况下，团结永远是前提。它 绝对是你立于不败之地的必然前提。纵观古今都可以证明这一条。例如，历史上的刘邦、刘秀、刘备这“三刘”就很有特点。他们个人有多大本事，还有宋江，光从 文学上看，很难把他写得很漂亮。这种人物给人的感觉是挺窝囊的那种人，怎么会被大家所拥戴?实际上，这些人都有一个最大的本事，就是他们能团结一批有本事 的人。这么多有本事的人都跟他至情至信地沟通，这就是大本事。过去我们都很注意那种“郎才女貌”，或者“文治武功”，没有注意到他们这种突出的本事。在团 结方面，我从小就受家庭的影响。我父亲经常给我讲团结的道理，要求我们从小就要做讲团结和善于团结的人。“己所不欲勿施于人”，“给人方便，自己方便”， 用他的话讲，就是做每件事不要只考虑自己愿不愿意，还要考虑别人愿不愿意。因为你生活在人群中，什么事都以自己为主，这是不行的。父亲讲的团结方面的道 理，当我们后来生活在集体环境时，体会就很深刻了。无论是上寄宿学校，还是下乡和参加工作，我都深深感到：凡事团结处理得好，工作都能做得比较好；凡事团 结处理不好，就都做不好。特别是后来上山下乡到陕北，远在千里之外，举目无亲，靠的就是团结。在这方面自己也有挫折和教训。
当年是我姨姨、姨父把我妈妈带出来参加革命的，他们都是我们很尊敬的人。姨父给我讲他当年是东北大学学生，“一二·九”以后怎么开展工作，怎么到太行山， 他说，我们那个时候都找机会往群众里钻，你现在不靠群众靠谁，当然要靠群众。姨姨也讲，那时我们都是往老乡那里跑，现在你们年轻人，还怕去，这不对！何况 现在城市也不容易，你们在这儿干什么?天天让人家当作流窜人口?当时在国庆节经常要清理“倒流”人口，但清理完后，又不让我们回去，先关在派出所，一进去 就四、五个月。而且关进去不是让你白坐着，还要让你干重体力活，海淀街一带的下水管，都是我们埋得。听了他们的话之后，我就按这个思路回去了。回去以后， 努力跟群众打成一片。一年来，我跟群众一起干活，生活习惯了，劳动关也过了，群众见我转变了，对我也好了，到我这儿串门的人也多了，我那屋子逐渐成了那个 地方的中心——村中心，时间大概是1970年。每天晚上，老老少少都络绎不绝地进来。进来后，我就给他们摆书场，讲古今中外。他们愿意听城里人侃大山，讲 他们不懂的事，渐渐地就连支部书记有什么事都找我商量，他说，年轻人见多识广，比他懂得多。这样，我在村里有了威信。我那时不过十六、七岁，村里几个老头 有什么事都找我商量。现在有的作家在作品中把知青写得很惨，我的感觉不完全是这样。我只是开始时感到惨，但是当我适应了当地的生活，特别是和群众融为一体 时，就感到自己活得很充实。
后来我又去冯家坪公社赵家河大队搞社教。搞社教很有意思，我当时是团员，不是党员。我已先后写过10份入党申请书，由于家庭的原因，都不批准我。这次公社 又将我的入党问题交到县委去研究。县委书记说，这个村姓氏矛盾复杂，本地人很难处理得好，确实需要他回村里主持工作。他爸爸的结论在哪儿？没有，不能因此 影响他入党。所以就批准我入党，并让我当了大队支部书记。让原来的大队支部书记屈居革委会主任。我走之后，他又回来接任支部书记。
在此之前，入团也费尽了周折。申请书前后写了8份。第一次写完入团申请后，我把大队支部书记请到我的窑洞来，一盘炒鸡蛋，吃俩个热馍。吃完后我说，我的入 团申请书您该递了吧?他说，我怎递?上面都说你是可教子女。我说，什么叫可教子女?他说，上面说你没划清界限。我说，结论在哪?一个人是什么问题，得有个 结论。我父亲什么结论？你得到哪个中央文件了？他说，真没有递，那就往上递。从公社回来之后，他说，公社书记把我骂回来了，说我不懂事，这样的人，你还敢 递？我说，我是什么人?我干了什么事?是写了反动标语，还是喊了反动口号?我是一个年轻人，追求上进，有什么不对?我毫不气馁。过几天，又写了第2份申 请，请支书又给递上去，就这样一直写到第8份。我那时候已没有一些人那种凄苦之感，或者是一种自卑之感，只是一个感觉，就是党内、团内好人越多，坏人会越 少，不入白不入，除非你不让我入。当写到第8份时，终于批下来了。当然，这是在我进一步得到公社团委书记的支持后才批的。团委书记到我那里，跟我聊了5 天，最后就成为“死党”。后来也就是他在接任公社知青办主任后，一手把我的“黑材料”付之一炬的。那次，他把我拉到一个小山沟的青石板上坐下，说，我把你 的所有“黑材料”都拿来了。我说，“黑材料”拿来有什么用?他说，烧了吧！我说，你敢（干）掉脑袋的事。他说，怎不敢，我看这材料是你学校寄来的。因为我 那时是中学生，我的材料不是八一学校给的，是中央党校写的，因为当时我母亲在中央党校，“文革”中我们家被抄之后，搬到党校里去。到党校后，因我有一股倔 劲，不甘受欺负，得罪了造反派，有什么不好的事都算在我身上，都认为我是头，我就被康生的老婆曹轶欧作为“黑帮”的家属揪出来了。那时，我15岁都不到。 他们说，你觉得自己的罪行有多重，我说，你给我估计估计，够不够枪毙?他们说，枪毙够100次了。
我想100次跟一次没什么区别，都100次了还怕什么?但是，当时连送派出所，只是在威胁我，说专政机关对你实行专政，再给你5分钟。之后，念毛主席语 录，天天晚上熬夜。我说，我只要在哪能睡觉就行，别管去哪。我被送到派出所门口就又被拉回去了。后来决定送我去少管所，当时少管所设有“黑帮”子弟学习 班。在要我去的时候，床位满了，大概要排到一个月才能进去。就在这时候，1968年12月，毛主席最新指示发表：“知识青年到农村去，接受贫下中农再教 育。”于是马上到学校报名上山下乡，我说，这是响应毛主席号召。他们一看，是到延安去，基本上属于流放，就让去。
经过许多的周折——“文化大革命”的周折，上山下乡的周折，最后，这个村居然需要我，离不开我，我当时的感觉是在农村好，如果当个工人或当这个、那个，越 是这些地方“文革”搞得越厉害，少不了天天要挨批判。在陕北农村也要搞大批判，批刘少奇、邓小平在西北的代理人’，“彭、高、习”和刘澜涛、赵守一等， “彭、高、习”即彭德怀、高岗、习仲勋。搞大批判还是由我来念报纸，当地有几个识字的，天天念得司空见惯了，也无所谓了。但当地的老百姓非常理解，毕竟是 我父亲过去的根据地所在。我父亲那时是“陕甘边”的苏维埃主席，当时才19岁。有这个背景，就有很多人保护我、帮助我，再加上我本身也比较坚强，就这么过 来了。
习：我的成长、进步应该说起始于陕北的7年。最大的收获有两点：一是让我懂得了什么叫实际，什么叫实事求是，什么叫群众。这是让我获益终生的东西，现在我 还受益于此。刚到农村的时候，经常有要饭的来，一来就赶，让狗去咬。因为当时在我们这些学生的概念里，要饭的都是“坏分子”、“二流子”，不知道当时那里 “肥正月、瘦二月，半死不活三、四月”，家家都是“糠菜半年粮”，老婆、孩子都出去讨饭，把粮食都给壮劳力吃，让他们忙春耕。这些东西是在农村生活了一段 才了解的。看看当时的中央文件与当地实际的差距，有很多感慨。二是培养了我的自信心。常言说，刀在石上磨，人在难中练。艰难困苦能够磨练一个人的意志。7 年上山下乡的艰苦生活对我的锻炼很大，后来遇到什么困难，就想起那个时候，在那样困难的条件下还可以干事，现在干嘛不干？
习：我那时一边当着村干部，一边总想着有机会我还是想上学深造一下，因为读书确实读得太少了，这与我理想的目标并不违背。那时候报大学，清华有两个名额在 延安地区，一个分给延川县。我3个志愿都填清华，你让我上我上，不让我上就拉倒。县里将我报到地区，县教育局领导仗义执言为我力争；清华来招生的人不敢做 主，请示清华。这又是一个机遇。1975年7、8、9三个月，正是刮所谓的“右倾翻案风”的时候。迟群、谢静宜都不在家，刘冰掌权，他说，可以来嘛。当 时，我父亲下放到洛阳的耐火材料厂。耐火材料厂开了个“土证明”：“习仲勋同志属人民内部矛盾，不影响子女升学就业。”开了这么个证明，就上学了。走的时 候，当地还剩下的一些知识青年都特别羡慕我。那些知青也都没得说，一恢复高考，都考上了学，还都是前几名。在这一批知青中，出了不少人才。1993年我应 邀回去了一次，当时我是省委常委、福州市委书记。延安行署专员给我讲，你们知青来了2万9，号称3万。现在出了省、部级干部8个，厅、局级干部大概二、三 百个，处级干部有三干多个，这是一笔大资源。在8个省部级干部里头，我了解的有王岐山，他现在是广东省常务副省长。
此外，还出了一批作家，像陶正，写《魂今归来》、《迫遥之乐》，他是去延川的知青。还有路遥，他是延川的本地知青，写了《人生》。还有个作家叫史铁生，写 了《我那遥远的清平湾》，这个清平湾就是过去他插队的延川县关家庄。另外出了一批企业家。前几年，延安搞了一次聚会，大概回去了上千人，拖儿带女的——让 下一代去体会一下，还拍了个片子，他们送了我一套。上山下乡的经历对我们影响是相当深的，形成了一种情结——叫黄土地情结。在遇到困难时想到这些，就会感 到没有解决不了的问题。
杨：我们注意到在今年１月召开的福建省第九届人民代表大会第三次会议期间，省内新闻媒介报道说您在作政府工作报告中讲到“必须使每一位政府工作人员都牢牢 记住，人民政府的权力来源于人民，必须代表人民的利益，必须为人民谋福利，切不可忘记了政府前面的‘人民’二字”时，全场报以热烈的掌声；还报道在大会结 束时，您以高票当选为省长。请问您对此有何感想？
习：对于我们共产党人来说，老百姓是我们的衣食父母，我们必须牢记全心全意为人民服务的宗旨，党和政府的一切方针政策都要以是否符合最大人民群众的利益为 最高标准。要时刻牢记自己是人民的公仆，时刻将人民群众的衣食冷暖放在心上，把“人民拥护不拥护、人民赞成不赞成、人民高兴不高兴、人民答应不答应”作为 想问题、干事业的出发点和落脚点，像爱自己的父母那样爱老百姓，为老百姓谋利益，带着老百姓奔好日子，绝不能高高在上，鱼肉老百姓，这是我们共产党与那些 反动统治者的根本区别。封建社会的官吏还讲究“为官一任，造福一方”，我们共产党人不干点对人民有益的事情，说得过去吗？