Xi Jinping, as Party secretary of Zhengding County, Hebei Province, collects opinions from local residents in the street in 1983.
Bicycle was the vehicle Xi Jinping used most when he worked as local official in early years.
From 1982 to 1985, Xi served as deputy secretary and later secretary of the CPC Zhengding County Committee in Hebei Province.
During this period, he always rode a bicycle when going out for official duties. Although a jeep was available in the county committee, he usually arranged for it to be used by elderly cadres.
He said riding a bicycle had three benefits: keeping fit, saving energy and getting close to the masses.
Zhang Wupu, then Party branch secretary of the county's Xizhaotong Commune, still vividly recalls his first meeting with Xi.
On April 6, 1982, Xi made a visit to the commune to learn about local conditions. He arrived at the commune at around eight in the morning. The first impressions Zhang had of Xi were "tall," "old bike," "old military uniform" and "old canvas shoes."
He was surprised that Xi went there by bike and was alone.
When asked how he made it to the commune, Xi said that he asked for directions from the locals along the road. Sometimes when the road was inconvenient, he carried the bike on his shoulder.
After hours of explaining the commune's production status, Zhang decided to take Xi to a small restaurant for lunch. It was the only restaurant in the commune, which offered no meat but steamed buns, fried shredded pancakes, baked cakes and simple dishes.
However, Xi insisted to go to the canteen of the commune, even though Zhang told him that the canteen had nothing good. The lunch was simple, steamed buns, fried cabbage and some plain boiled water. The dining table was just a piece of cement tile propped up by some bricks. Since there were no chairs, they squatted when eating.
After lunch, Xi paid for the bill despite Zhang's refusal: 0.18 yuan for two steamed buns and a dish of fried cabbage. Then accompanied by Zhang, Xi went to the fields on his bike to check the wheat seedlings and cotton planting.
During three years in Zhengding, Xi visited all 25 communes and 222 brigades in the county on his bike.
(Compiled by Huang Jingjing and Cao Mengqi; Source: Xi Jinping in Zhengding County, a book about Xi's experience as a county official. Featuring interviews mainly with Xi's colleagues at that time, the book was published in March 2019.)