Wang Shumao works at the office in Tanmen Village of Tanmen Township in Qionghai, south China’s Hainan Province, Sept. 14, 2022. (Xinhua/Yang Guanyu)

Beijing, Oct. 13(CED) — According to Xinhua reports in Haikou on Oct. 6, at 18, Wang Shumao, a villager from China’s southern island province of Hainan, became a skillful fisherman, but little did he know then that he would become a village leader in the years to come.

Born in the village of Tanmen on the east coast of Hainan in 1956, Wang spent a large part of his life sailing and fishing in the South China Sea, which locals call the “Ancestor Sea” for the abundance it provides.

Over the years, he has been a captain of his own ship, a mentor to youth in his village, and a village Party chief who led his folks to prosperity by developing local fishing and tourism industries.

This year, Wang was elected as a delegate to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

Fishing has been a traditional trade in Tanmen, and like many other young people in the village, Wang became a fisherman following the steps of their fathers.

Life on the sea went well for Wang, who saved enough to buy a 30-tonne wood boat in the 1980s. In the following years, his business has expanded steadily.

At the time, he had already become a master in the business, and like his father, he voluntarily taught his fishing skills to youngsters in the village and led local fishermen to make handsome profits.

One of the youngsters was Chen Zebo.

“When I was 13, we were really poor and I knew nothing about fishing, but Wang taught me without any reserve,” Chen recalled. “He really cares about others.”

Fishing on the sea is a high-risk job, especially when typhoons hit. With years of experience, Wang was always among the first to reach out to other fishermen in danger. Over the years, he has saved over 600 fellow fishermen.

In the eyes of many, Wang also played the role of a captain in their lives.

“We trust him and follow him. Thanks to his efforts, we are living better lives,” said villager Wang Zhenfu.

In recent years, Wang Shumao steered local fishermen towards new professions.

In 2018, he was elected as a deputy to the 13th National People’s Congress. He put forward a proposal to support the development of the recreational fishery industry in coastal fishing villages. The idea received support from the government.

Since then, homestays have sprung up in the township of Tanmen, which administers Tanmen Village, and the number of seafood restaurants has expanded to 167 in the township.

In 2021, Wang was elected as Party chief of Tanmen Village. He decided to explore local aquaculture amid the country’s rural revitalization drive.

Under his guidance and support, more than 40 local fishermen have built 33 aquaculture farms. The seafood from the farms is sold to customers across China.

Tourism also boomed. The once little-known Tanmen Township has become a popular tourist destination, receiving about 1.6 million tourists every year.

“Now people in our village are making more money,” Wang said. “I think we have chosen the right way.” ■

By Chinaeuropenet

Xuefei Chen Axelsson is an independent media person. She has been a journalist for 30 years. She studied English, International politics, and sustainable development. She has been to Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and America, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and all the nordic countries including Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Britain. She is good at talking with all kinds of people and exchange ideas and serves as a bridge between China and the world.

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