Ji Yaqiu waved his right hand when ascending Tian’anmen Rostrum, trying to imitate the move Chairman Mao Zedong made when announcing the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
“I was excited and felt proud when I stepped onto Tian’anmen Rostrum,” said Ji, who was on a tour after being awarded the top honor for working people in China.
“I had a cheerful and unforgettable time in Beijing and Beidaihe,” he said.
Ji won the National Model Worker title in 1989 due to his technological innovations and hard work at a cement company in Hainan province. He retired last year.
The 60-year-old clearly remembers when he and 299 other model workers enjoyed an eight-day tour organized by the country’s top trade union organization in 2010.
The model workers visited the Summer Palace, the Bird’s Nest stadium and the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, and tourist attractions in Beidaihe, a seaside resort in Hebei province.
“It was the first time I saw the ocean,” recalled Lyu Xinlu, a retired welder from a fertilizer factory in Anhui province. Lyu was also named a national model worker and joined a recreational tour last year.
“It was raining when I visited Beidaihe, or I could have had a swim,” said the 59-year-old.
Besides a refreshing tour, model workers received 10,000 yuan ($1,620) each from the central government and an increase in their pensions.
Ji Yaqiu now receives a monthly pension of 1,960 yuan. The pension for his former co-workers who have retired from the company is around 1,400 yuan.
In Tianjin municipality, model workers can receive subsidies of 150 yuan to 170 yuan after retirement.
Meanwhile, many places grant monthly subsidies to national model workers.
Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, asks employers to give a 150-yuan monthly subsidy to workers who won the title after 1989. Workers who were bestowed the honor before 1989 receive a 200-yuan monthly subsidy.
The city also gives priority to model workers who live in poor conditions to purchase subsidized housing.
In Hangzhou, model workers are also granted medical subsidies.
In 2003, the central government budgeted 60 million yuan to subsidize model workers who lived a hard life and those who suffered poverty caused by disease.
The fund is to increase to 270 million yuan this year.
China started to name national model workers in 1950. The awards are given every five years.