Spirit of reform to live on

Updated: 2015-07-17 08:41

(China Daily)

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Spirit of reform to live on

Former US Vice-President George H Bush, escorted by then Vice-Premier Wan Li, is greeted by youngsters during an official welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, May 7, 1982.[Photo/IC]

Wan Li, former chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, died at the age of 99 on Wednesday, but his precious legacy will be remembered and carried forward forever by the Chinese people.

Many of Wan's deeds are worth praising. A particularly outstanding contribution Wan made was the extension of the contractual household responsibility system, a practice secretly invented by farmers in Xiaogang village in Anhui province to resist the egalitarian agricultural system and raise grain production, to the rest of the province in 1977, when he served as the province's Party chief. This actually started the rural reforms in China at that time.

Such reform, although a general consensus today, posed a huge political risk to the initiator in China in the late 1970s when the perception of society was rather backward and conservative. After conducting in-depth studies, Wan confirmed a production-focused principle, and villagers were divided into independent production units to get their labor remuneration based on agricultural output. The move was warmly welcomed by farmers who were plagued by grain scarcity and hunger.

"China's reform started from its rural areas, while rural reform started from Anhui, to which Wan Li made his contribution," Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China's reform and opening-up, once said.

Aside from rural reform, Wan also made a contribution to China's advancement of democracy and rule of law. His contributions stemmed from his huge courage to be the first to have a try. Wan's pioneering spirit is badly needed today, as comprehensive and deeper reforms are being implemented.

The above is an abridgement of a Beijing News article published on Thursday.