Zhang Huamei, 56, has come a long way in the past four decades.
In the 1970s, she was despised by many for selling daily necessities during the era of planned economy.
On Dec 5, however, she met Premier Li Keqiang. Zhang was the first in the country to receive a small private business certificate in 1980, allowing her to operate independently.
“It’s my first time to shake hands with the Premier. I was pretty excited. But like many other private owners, I was more interested in what he said about streamlining administration and providing better governmental services,” Zhang said. “These are real moves to encourage us to keep making investment that may offer more jobs and create profitability.”
Zhang now runs a factory in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, that makes buttons for the clothing industry.
In late 1978, the country adopted its reform and opening-up policy, which encouraged support for private businesses. Zhang’s historic first certificate is now kept in the archives of the Wenzhou Bureau of Industry and Commerce.
“The Premier also said our legitimate rights and properties will be protected, and I am glad to see changes in how people look at us from despising us to envy,” Zhang added.