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Chai Shengfang: Great Alumnus and Model of the Time

Peking University, Dec. 25, 2014: On August 18, 2014, thousands of people from all walks of life, peasants, workers, government officials, students, entrepreneurs, etc., poured on the street of Lintao County, China’s west Gansu Province. They all came to bid farewell to their loving magistrate Chai Shengfang. 


Chai’s Funeral


Chai Shengfang, mayor of Lintao County, died from long-term of overload work in his office on August 15 at the age of 45, leaving behind his beautiful wife and three-year-old daughter. He graduated from Peking University in 1990 and had been working in the Institute of Archaeology of Gansu Province for seven years, then he went to Japan to pursue his master and doctor degree atKobe University.


After obtaining his Ph.D. in cultural structure in 2002, he chose to return to Gansu Province, one of the poorest provinces in China, decling far promising offers from Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Four years later, he started working in Longxi County and then Lintao County in 2011. He also became the first mayor in the history of Lintao County with doctoral degree.


Chai worked in Lintao for three years until his last breath. His populist image and pragmatic work style won him great fame and popularity from local people. He said,“if we don’t understand what people worry about and what they want, all of our efforts will be in vain in the end. Our office door should always be open to all people, so that they could reach us without any difficulties, and get their problems solved easily.” Since he came to office, he adhered to a down-to-earth working style, stayed close to the grassroots to conduct research and learn new situations and solve new problems. During the nine months as the mayor, his footprints covered near 300 villages among the total 323 administrative villages of Lintao County. It is no exaggeration to say that no one knows Lintao better than him.


Chai in Field Trip


After thorough investigation of Lintao’s conditions, Chai adopted several strategic measures with the aim to modernize Lintao and help hundreds of thousands of people shake off poverty and lead them to a moderately well-off life. He made effective policies to invite external investment, which in return greatly invigorated Lintao’s economy. In light of local conditions, he also advocated the promotion of different cash crops and livestock, such as Chinese medical herbs, fruit trees and premium sheep breed. These measures quickly enriched people who could barely afford a decent meal before and some even had a life they couldn’t even have imagined.


Chai in Field Trip



When government corruption at all levels gradually harmed social justice and equality, undermined people’s faith in government, Chai’s honest and upright image may serve as an example for other government officials. “No one will doubt Mr. Chai’s integrity.” His colleagues, ordinary workers, businessmen and the men who know him,, would agree on this. Chai keeps his office door open on all occasions. He said, “There is nothing to hide. Everything I do, I do it openly.” He once said to his wife, jokingly, “money is just worldly possessions. What really matters is that we are healthy and happy. Don’t take any gifts from other people; let it be a rule of this family. If you cannot resist the temptation, I shall divorce you.”


Chai’s sudden death is a huge loss to the people he once served. Amidst the anti-corruption campaign, may his leave inspire more of the government officials to truly serve the people with heart and soul, instead of using their privilege seeking fame and money.


Reported by: Xiao Chunliang

Edited by: Zhang Jiang

Image source: China Economic Weekly (http://gansu.gscn.com.cn/system/2014/09/20/010812042.shtml)