Li Keqiang: A man who prioritizes people’s concerns

Li Keqiang, then secretary of the Henan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), talks to villagers in Xinxiang, central China's Henan Province on August 8, 2003.

Rise of Henan

When Li left Beijing for Henan Province in June 1998, he set a record by becoming the country's youngest provincial governor at the age of 44 and the first governor with a doctoral degree.
In seven years, Li devoted himself to solving problems concerning Henan's development and accumulated on-the-ground experience.

Breaking Henan's stereotype as an agricultural province, Li pursued industrialization, urbanization and agricultural modernization. In 2003, he formally proposed the concept of "the rise of the Central Plains" and put it into practice in Henan.
The Central Plains refer to regions comprising the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, including Henan, Hebei, Shandong and Shanxi provinces.

His proposal and practices became a prototype for the rise of central China, which is home to one-fourth of China's population and accounts for one-fifth of the country's economic output.
Apart from consolidating Henan's advantages as China's granary, he urged local government officials to introduce capital, technology, experts, talents, advanced management experience and mechanisms from eastern coastal provinces, which have been in the forefront of China's economic expansion, as well as strengthen cooperation with western provinces to seize bigger market share.

Using such tactics, Li managed to shift Henan from an agricultural province to an emerging industrial province.
For seven years, Henan maintained a growth rate of 1.63 percentage points higher than the national average. The per capita GDP rose to 7590 yuan in 2003 from 4976 yuan on his arrival in 1998, with the province climbing from 20th to 17th in the national per capita GDP ranking.

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