Li Fanyu, 78, a resident of Xinghualing district in Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province, never expected that she would meet China’s Premier in her humble home.
Nonetheless, Li’s one-story house, a rundown home built in the 1950s, was where Premier Li Keqiang spent part of his first work day of the new year on Jan 4.
The shanty neighborhood, named Xiaobeiguan, houses 830 households like Li Fanyu’s.
Residents of the community share one toilet. Tap water is available, but there is only one faucet for everyone to use.
Walking out of Li Fanyu’s house, the premier was told that the woman’s situation was not rare in Taiyuan, which is about 500 kilometers from Beijing. There are at least 80 more such shantytowns in Taiyuan.
At this, the premier stopped and stood still. Becoming emotional, he said to some of the accompanying ministers: “Haven’t you seen that these people are still living in such conditions? There are way too many things left to be done in China!”
He told the residents of Xiaobeiguan neighborhood that he knew well their hardship.
“We’ll let you live in new buildings as soon as possible,” the Premier told the residents as they waved goodbye.
Renovating shantytowns has been a government priority.
In October, Premier Li told a national work conference, “Renovation of shantytowns raises many low-income families’ hopes for improving their living conditions and is also a focal point in pushing forward people-oriented urbanization.”
During his inspection tour in Shanxi, Premier Li also visited Taiyuan Iron & Steel (Group) Co, which is struggling with sluggish global iron prices.
He told hundreds of workers that difficulties faced by iron and steel companies will surely be conquered, as long as workers use wisdom and courage.
Taiyuan Iron & Steel, founded in 1934, is the world’s largest stainless steel producer. In recent years, the company has worked on developing other products related to the iron and steel industry, hoping to diversify.
Premier Li praised the idea. “Developing with some diversity will help the company stand stronger in facing unexpected challenges,” he said.