On Father’s Day, which falls on the third Sunday of June, people express gratitude to their fathers or recall treasured memories of time shared together.
On the bookshelf of Chinese President Xi Jinping, there is a picture of him pushing his father, Xi Zhongxun, in a wheelchair while his wife and daughter walk alongside him.
The son of farmers who rose to become a leader, Xi Zhongxun (1913-2002) always regarded himself as a member of the working people.
A simple life
The Xis have a tradition of being strict with their children and living a simple life. Xi Zhongxun regularly told his children to be frugal, and led by example.
As his daughter Xi Qiaoqiao recalled, Xi Zhongxun would pick up and eat errant rice grains and bun crumbs from the table and mop up the soup bowl with a bun.
When Xi Jinping was a child, he wore his sisters’ hand-me-down clothing and shoes. When working in Zhengding, north China’s Hebei Province, he took a patched mattress with him. During his work in Ningde, southeast China’s Fujian Province, he requested that they not renovate his office or dormitory.
He has also emphasized the importance of family education and virtues on many occasions. “No matter how times have changed, family values, family education and family building must be stressed so that the millions of families become important points for national development, ethnic progress and social harmony,” Xi Jinping said.
Since becoming the general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Xi Jinping has repeatedly called for practicing thrift and opposed extravagance and waste.
Xi Zhongxun’s family tradition was a mirror, a benchmark, and guide for his children.
‘State affairs come first’
On October 15, 2001, a rare family reunion took place for Xi Zhongxun’s 88th birthday.
However, Xi Jinping, who was the governor of Fujian Province at the time, was absent due to a busy schedule. He then wrote a heartfelt letter to his father expressing his regret.
“You work silently for the Chinese people, which inspires me to devote my whole life to the cause of serving the people,” Xi Jinping wrote in the letter.
Having read the letter, Xi Zhongxun was understanding of his son’s absence and said to his family and friends, “Work comes first and state affairs take priority. Serving the people is the greatest piety.”
A good family tradition influences the work style of the Party and the government.
Since the 18th CPC National Congress, Xi Jinping has traveled to 14 contiguous areas which were at the time in extreme poverty and conducted more than 50 inspections on poverty alleviation work.
From “seeing real poverty” to seriously “getting rid of poverty,” he has firmly carried the historical responsibility on his shoulders.
“No matter what your job title is, serve the people diligently, consider the interests of the people with all your heart, maintain close ties with the people, and always stay approachable to the people,” Xi Zhongxun once told his son.
With those words, Xi Jinping never forgets what inspired him to be a servant of the people.