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September 18, 2009

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Wen makes time for old friend

UYGUR farmer Hashim Dawut felt quite touched as he was guided into Premier Wen Jiabao's office at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in downtown Beijing on Monday.

The 57-year-old man had been looking forward to the moment for more than five years.

Premier Wen first met Hashim in his village in Bacu County of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on March 28, 2003.

On that day, Wen was inspecting and directing relief work after an earthquake measuring 6.8 magnitude jolted Bacu and Jiashi counties on February 24, 2003. The quake killed 268 people.

Hashim lost five loved ones in the earthquake, but still worked hard to save his fellow villagers.

Upon hearing his story, Wen paid a special visit to him.

"You lost your family members in the quake, and now you are a family member of all the people in China, including me," Wen told him.

Tears welled up in Hashim's eyes as the premier finished speaking.

In February 2004, when Hashim went to Beijing to attend an awards ceremony honoring heroes who inspired the nation in 2003, he expressed a wish to meet Wen, who invited him to the Zhongnanhai compound.

Wen asked Hashim about the reconstruction of his village and asked him to come to Zhongnanhai again.

On Monday, China paid tribute to 100 heroes and model citizens who made outstanding contributions to the founding of the People's Republic of China and 100 more who have inspired the nation during the past six decades.

Hashim was one of the model citizens and was invited to the event in Beijing and to Zhongnanhai.

Wen and Hashim talked about the July 5 riot that occurred in the regional capital of Urumqi. Nearly 200 people were killed, mostly ethnic Han, in the riot.

"It was heartrending to see our people losing lives and property in the riots," Wen said.

"In Xinjiang, Uygurs and Hans are inseparable, and all the ethnic groups are inseparable, because we are a family," Wen said.

"We should cherish the stability and development that did not come easy," he added.

Hashim responded: "I will bring your words home."


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