Quest for hardship in Wen's blood
When Premier Wen Jiabao was still a passionate youth, he wrote two 'blood letters' to obtain a hardship posting to remote Tibet when he graduated from the China University of Geosciences.
'I thought to myself, 'A bird will ultimately make it to the blue sky as long as it's being set free',' he said to internet in a live online chat on the central government's website and state media Xinhua.
'My dream at the time was to go somewhere far away,' he said, talking about his personal growth.
While many wonder what Wen's personal life is like, he said he was in fact a family man. 'Just like everyone else, I have my own family and parents in their 90s. However, one thing I regret the most was that I spent too little time with them in the last eight years as premier.'
As a young man, Wen was frail, having twice been diagnosed with tuberculosis after entering university. Treatment forced him to delay his studies. 'That was a heavy setback for me,' Wen said. 'But I have never surrendered. I always knew I would be a useful man one day.'
Even living in isolation at home and in hospital, Wen said he would not let one single day pass without studying.
'While everyone was sleeping, I would study till midnight, and I rose earlier than all of my classmates. Five years passed just like that, and so did my sickness. I got distinctions in 35 out of 36 subjects,' he said.
When he graduated, his institute asked him to remain in Beijing for postgraduate studies.
'I could well have stayed, but I still made my way to the northwest [China].' He put himself to the test by working as a rural labourer in the underdeveloped region for one year.