HEFEI, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- On a UNESCO world heritage site in east China's Anhui Province stands one of China's most famous and iconic trees: the Guest-Greeting Pine. The tree resides at about 1,700 meters above sea level on Huangshan Mountain.
It was named as such because the tree, growing out of the rocks with a long branch extending out, appears to be greeting guests who arrive here. The pine is believed to be about 1,000 years old.
In 1981, the first guardian was appointed to take care of the tree, a practice that continues to this day.
"The Guest-Greeting Pine has great historical, cultural and ecological significance, and thus needs careful tending," said Hu Xiaochun, the 19th guardian of the tree.
"My job requires me to check the tree every two hours normally, and every 30 minutes in extreme weather, such as heavy rain, snow and strong wind," added Hu.
Hu has a habit of keeping a log every day on the conditions of the ancient tree, a habit he has kept for the past 12 years.
On June 9, Hu and his colleague Li Peisheng, a sanitation worker at the scenic spot, decided to do something that they had been thinking about for months. They wrote a letter to President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.
In the letter, they expressed their resolve to make contributions to preserving the beautiful Huangshan Mountain and building a beautiful China.
To their surprise, the two workers received a reply letter on Aug. 13. In the letter, Xi hailed Li and Hu's longtime and dedicated efforts in keeping the mountain clean and tending the Guest-Greeting Pine, expressing expectations that they will continue their exemplary work.
Unlike many other sanitation workers, Li, equipped with climbing ropes, has to climb along steep cliffs to collect garbage. Cleaners like him are called "Spidermen of Huangshan Mountain." Apart from collecting garbage, they also help tourists retrieve wallets, cellphones and other valuables.
"It's a great honor to receive a letter from the president. I will continue to work hard with my colleagues to make the mountain more beautiful," said Li, 48, who has worked in Huangshan for over 20 years.
Hu feels greatly encouraged after receiving the letter from Xi.
"I'm extremely happy to receive the reply. The letter shows not only his solicitude for grassroots workers, but also his love for the mountain. I'll continue to do my job well, so that the tree can continue to prosper and welcome more tourists," said Hu.
China has been awarding grassroots heroes as "Good Samaritans of China" since 2008. Li and Hu made it to the list of awardees in 2012 and 2021, respectively.