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A pottery maker's journey from poverty to well
Last Updated: 2016-01-15 11:14 | chinadaily.com.cn
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President Xi Jinping (front) waves to people as he walks on the clay pottery craftsmanship street at Huamao village of Fengxiang township in Zunyi county, Southwest China's Guizhou province, June 16, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]

A pottery maker in a remote Chinese village lifted his family out of poverty through his craft and then managed to grow his family business by three times following his handshake with President Xi Jinping in June.

The southwestern village of Huamao in Guizhou, one of China's most underdeveloped provinces, is rich in clay, and has been home to clay pottery makers since the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

When the most famous Chinese baijiu, a clear liquor made from sorghum and other grains, won a medal at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, the liquor was contained in clay pottery ware manufactured at Huamao village.

Mu Xiangang's family has been making clay pottery for generations, but their workshop didn't earn them a decent life until 2014 when the annual income of the nine-member family increased from less than 10,000 yuan ($1,518) to more than 50,000 yuan.

"There were dozens of pottery workshops along the street in the 1970s, but it was too difficult to feed the family by selling pottery wares. So many gave up and my family struggled to keep the business running," said Mu at his family workshop at Huamao village's clay pottery craftsmanship street, which was visited by President Xi during his tour to Guizhou in June.

On his tour to the village that has been lifted out of poverty in recent years, Xi visited greenhouses, financial centers, bamboo and pottery workshops to learn how poverty reduction projects were running. Xi told villagers that "a good life is created with one's own hands" and nothing will stand in their way if they are confident and determined.

"After graduation from college in the province's capital city of Guiyang, I found it difficult to find a good job in big cities and I also had the small wish of helping my family grow our pottery workshop, so I chose to come back," said Mu as he sold a small cat-shaped ware to a customer at 10 yuan.

Mu was bold and brave and chose to expand his family's workshop by building several workshops, which coincided with the government's policy to transform the countryside in an-all round way. So, Mu's family was quickly lifted out of poverty and Mu himself became a self-made model in the village.

"I never expected President Xi would visit my workshop," said Mu, "he was supposed to spend eight minutes in my worship, but he stayed for 20 minutes."

"He watched my brother make pottery base and told us the craftsmanship has cultural significance and asked us to carry it down generation by generation," Mu recalled his meeting with the President, "he also looked at our pottery products and asked us about the sales situation."

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