Discovering Xi's Look as 'Columnist' in a Book
By Genc Mlloja
Albanian Daily News
Published April 2, 2018
Albanian readers have since long in their hands the book entitled "Centennial Wisdom and Governance - Quotations of Chinese Classical Works by President Xi Jinping", which has been published in the Albanian language by the Chinese Radio International (CRI), having the support of the Chinese Embassy in Tirana and other collaborators. The book was launched in a ceremony organized by the Chinese Embassy in Tirana on December 3, 2015 offering a new look at President Xi Jinping's great vocation as a publicist with the earliest articles dating back to the year 1984 and the latest one to 2014 at different stages of his career."President Xi Jinping has used the wisdom and power of the excellent traditional culture of China. In his many articles and speeches, Xi Jinping quotes often wise sayings of ancient Chinese classics for featuring the thought on the state governance," said Chinese Ambassador to Tirana Jiang Yu when the book was launched in Tirana.
"Now Sino-Albanian relations are maintaining the good trend of development and the exchanges in different fields between the two countries are becoming stronger. We hope that this book can provide a modest help for Albanian readers to know deeper the point of view of the Chinese people," says the forward of the book "Centennial Wisdom and Governance", which comprises quotations taken from President Xi Jinping's works "Getting Out of Poverty" (July 1992), "Making Concrete Works, Movement Forward" (December 2006) and "New Words in Zhijiang " (August 2017). The rest of the quotations have been taken from speeches held by Xi from 2013-2014 period.
Another book "Xi Jinping: The Governance of China", which contains 79 speeches, talks, interviews, notes and letters of the Chinese leader between November 2012 and June 2014, was issued in more than 160 countries and regions making its debut in September 2014.
Xi's book "The Governance of China" was also published in the Albanian language being launched on September 23, 2017 in a ceremony which was attended by President Ilir Meta. "China is not only a great country, but it also represents a 5,000-year old ancient civilization and cultural heritage. For us, Albanians, it remains a friendly country with which we have built special relations of friendship and cooperation. The friends, who have the same goals and ideals, are not separated either by mountains or oceans," said President on that occasion.
"Truthfulness Is Life of Journalism"
A comprehensive reading of Xi's work "Centennial Wisdom and Governance - Quotations of Chinese Classical Works by President Xi Jinping" is ample evidence of how a politician since his young age and in the first steps of the political career finds motivation, strength and space in the local media of the places where he worked, seeing journalism as a means of communication with the people.
While perusing the 455- page book, which consists of seven parts featuring President Xi Jinping's quotations from ancient stories and classics in his speeches and articles, it is interesting to learn more on Xi's vocation, that of a 'columnist', who even though 27 years old showed great interest in expressing his ideas and thoughts in articles and commentaries carried by the local media of the places where he worked holding different positions. Through the media he made public his personal observations, analysis, and unveiled suggestions on different issues linked especially with the local socio-economic factors and processes, as well as with the improvement of officials' performance.
As it can be noticed in the book with the passing of years Xi's way of communication with the people keeps getting stronger and more comprehensive and innovative in line with his higher local and central party and government positions, but it is significant how vividly quotations from ancient classics like Confucius, Guan Zi and dozens of others, are incorporated in his contributions reflecting his thoughts on a wide range of issues.
This 'journalism trip' starting in 1984 seems to have been sufficient practice and experience for putting forward the 'new and comprehensive media policy' unveiled by President Xi on February 19, 2016.
"Truthfulness is the life of journalism, and the facts must be reported based on the truth," Xi said in his speech in the symposium on the media work in February 2016. "While accurately reporting individual facts, journalists must also grasp and reflect the overall situation of an event from a broad view." On August 19, 2013, at the national work conference on propaganda and ideology, he gave a speech in which he emphasized that "the internet is the priority of priorities". Later in a speech during a visit to China Central Television on February 19, 2016 he noted that "(We must) use our international transmission platform well in order to objectively, truly and vividly report the situation with respect to China's economic and social development, transmitting Chinese culture, telling China's story properly, and promoting wider and better understanding of China in foreign countries."
Local leader and a columnist...
Since the year 1984 when he was secretary of the Committee of the Communist Party of the district Zhengding of the Hebei province Xi published an article in "Hebei Daily", which was established in 1949, and it is edited in the provincial capital Shijiazhuang and printed in 11 cities every morning. During the time that he was party secretary in the Zhejiang province, Xi started to write for the newspaper "Zhejiang Daily". Since February 25, 2003 he was the launcher and author of the comments in the column New Words of Zhijiang under the penname 'Zhezin'; in a four-year span of time he published 232 articles, that is almost one per week.
It should be noted that since his early writings, it is distinguishable that quotations of outstanding ancient Chinese classics, picked up according to relevant topics and problems where he served, were the inspiration and power making his contributions turn into the tenacity of a future leader, who in 1974 was received into the Communist Party of China, beginning his political career as an aide to Geng Biao, a top leader of the 'People's Liberation Army'. The future president is closely linked, as the book shows, with the media. A close look at the course of his political assignments as revealed by the book shows that media work is his 'companion', why not probably even his passion. Transferred to Fujian in 1985, Xi worked in various party posts, beginning as Deputy Mayor of Xiamen. In 1987, he was transferred to Ningde, where he served as a district party chief. He launched a conservation campaign that beautified the major artery connecting Ningde to the greater Fujian province. He was the party leader in Fuzhou, the provincial capital, from 1998 to 2000. Credited with stimulating foreign investment, Xi revitalized the historical 'Three Lanes and Seven Alleys' section. His reputation as an honest and efficient politician rose steadily during his time in Fujian province.
In 2000, he was named Fujian's provincial governor. In 2003, he moved to the province of Zhejiang, where he served as governor and party secretary. During his tenure, private industry quadrupled its research and development investment in the province. In 2007, he was picked to lead the party in Shanghai. 2008 was a watershed year for Xi Jinping. He was named to the 'Standing Committee of the Communist Party' and - shortly thereafter - Vice President of the PRC. In 2012, he assumed the position of 'General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.' As China is a one-party state, this is functionally the most powerful position in the country. Later that same year, Xi was elected President, a title that confers upon him the position of head of state.
In all these assignments, Xi left his 'trace' through articles and other media contributions. "Who rejoices over people's joy, even the people rejoice over him; who worries over people's worry, even the people worry over him". This was, for example, the conclusion of an article written by Xi on January 7, 2007 in his column New Words of Zhijiang in the "Zhejlang Daily". But passing through the long list of his articles and comments it can be seen that messages conveyed to officials of all ranks focus mainly on the attention to the people, love for the people and enrichment of the people. In many cases, Xi deals in detail with people's concerns in his articles considering housing, health care and education as the three 'burdens' on people's shoulders.
The topic of people's 'worries' is predominant in almost all his journalistic experience, but it is closely linked with the social sustainability. As a party secretary in Ningde, Xi wrote in January 1989 in an article: "If we know people's difficulties, if we resolve them properly, if we 'solve people's difficulties as we heal the abdominal and heart diseases'... , should we still be worried on social sustainability?" As it is underlined in the book, Xi explained in that article his opinion on the social sustainability, which he considered as a question of handling and resolving public's interests, seeing it 'the core of the matter'. According to him, there is no little thing in ordinary people's life - growth by one cent of the water price, increase of the bus ticket by ten cents, or the reduction of the procedures to get a license, all of these are things having a great influence on the people.
Fight against corruption
When Xi Jinping took the presidential post, corruption was a great concern in China and he made the fight against it a major target expressed in his determination to hit both 'tigers' (high ranking officials) and 'flies' (low ranking officials). Until July 2014, some 50,000 persons were sentenced for the violation of the "Eight rules", while until the 4th plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC 180,000 members and cadres of the Party, 54 of whom at the provincial and ministerial level, were sentenced including the 'super tigers' Zhou Yongkang, Xu Caihou and Su Rong.
Before taking those measures Xi had written in an article entitled "Talk on politics" that the loyalty of an official should comply with the law. "Loyalty is not a favor, but respect of justice and law. If the law is not clear, standards cannot be set, and if there are no standards, moral and justice cannot be respected," Xi underlined in his article, which anticipated the anti-corruption campaign.
There is an article in the book, which was published in his column New Words of Zhijiang on March 20, 2004, in which he says that small things and bits are like a mirror; they show the qualities and spirit of man. "The largest part of the corrupted people plunge into the state of their destruction because of the negligence of small things and bits. They neglect warnings with regard to different invitations, turn down principles in face of petty interests, lose personality in a joyful atmosphere."
On May 17, 2006, Xi published the article focused on the importance of the creation and promotion of the culture of the rule of law in his column. "If men do not have the culture of the rule of law and the society does not have the atmosphere of the rule of law, then the law is like a tree without roots, as water without a source," pointed out Xi when he headed the Party Committee of Zhejiang province. In April of that year it was published the decision on the strengthening of the rule of law in Zhejiang province.
Writings as a herald of generalizations
President Xi has apparently made the best of his experience as local leader in different stages of his career as mentioned above to convey messages on different aspects, and many of his writings have led him to generalizations. For example, he wrote in 2006 that "man's life is limited but knowledge not", or "what we listen to is not more believable than what we see; what we learn by eyes does not get fixed in our mind more than what we learn by hands. Knowledge and experience are like two wings with which the eagle can fly higher and further. The difficult conditions and numerous and complicated problems are the best test for a man," Xi underscored in 2013.
On December 4, 2006, in an article published in New Words in Zhijiang, Xi dwelt on his idea on the importance of concrete governance work. "The practical men are those wanting to listen and speak in concrete words, who dare to undertake responsibilities and are capable for concrete work. Leaders should be such men," he wrote in 2006. In 2007, he underlined in an article that "if you want to become a good official, you should be a good man; if you want to be a good man, you should cultivate morale. Therefore morale is the basis for performing the government task and an official should cultivate morale in the first place."
With regard to the concept of reading, Xi would write in New Words of Zhijiang that "Reading is a distinguishing process of invaluable things and the core. We should compare what we read in books with what we see in reality in order to find the order of development, and act on the basis of combining knowledge with practice."
In June of 1988, when Xi was appointed party secretary in the city of Ningde of the Fujian province, he made an inspection in 9 districts in the east of Zhejiang and some neighboring regions in the south of this province. After the visit Xi put down his ideas on the development of the region in an article under the headline "How the weak bird can fly rapidly- Thoughts on the development of nine districts in the east of Fujian". He underlined the importance of economic work. "Many colleagues often make mistakes with regard to the order of works as far as concrete problems are concerned. 'The eyelashes are close to the eyes, but we do not see them.' The economic development is the main issue of our work and we cannot achieve significant results without concentrating in this direction. Some colleagues lament that much work being not linked with the economic sphere exhaust most of the energy of the cadres in districts and villages. I think that this situation should change. They should dedicate the greatest part of energy and time to the economic development," he wrote in that article. Further on he said: "We will never allow anyone to misuse the power for the sake of his own interests. In the first place, the officials should know the concept of sacrifice and service on duty. 'You cannot have both a bear paw and fish'. If you take upon a government post, you should not think of getting rich. Do not stretch out the hand. If you stretch it out, we will catch you."
Xi's Vision on 'Chinese Dream'
Before launching the 'Chinese Dream' Xi began promoting the phrase as a slogan in a high-profile visit to the National Museum of China in November 2012 after taking the office of CPC general secretary. He dwelt on it in many contributions and the gist of the 'Chinese Dream', according to Xi's vision, is the wish of every Chinese for a better life, is the national harmony and that of nature with man, is peace in the world. "This is the unanimous dream and thought of all the Chinese people, is the right of all Chinese," Xi explained, adding: "The common interests can create common objectives, and when these objectives are accomplished, even the small dreams come true."
President Xi brought that idea even to the attention of the American public opinion during a visit to the United States in September 2015. Speaking to a group of US and Chinese business leaders in Seattle on September 22, 2015 in a dinner, which was also attended by Dr. Henry Kissinger, who as presidential National Security Advisor visited Beijing on July 9-11, 1971, and his talks with Chinese authorities produced an agreement that President Nixon would visit China. Nixon went to China in February 1972. In Seattle's address in 2015 President Xi touched among others on the 'Chinese Dream', pointing out that it is a 'dream of the people'. President Xi said in that speech: "Toward the end of the 1960s, when I was in my teens, I was sent from Beijing to work as a peasant in a small village, where I spent seven years. At that time, the villagers and I lived in earth caves and slept on earth beds. Life was very hard. There was no meat in our diet for months. I knew what the villagers wanted the most. Later, I became the village's party secretary and began to lead the villagers in production. One thing I wished most at the time was to make it possible for the villagers to eat meat to their heart's content. But it was very difficult for such a wish to come true in those years. At the spring festival earlier this year, I returned to the village. It was a different place now. I saw black top roads. Now living in houses with bricks and tiles, the villagers had Internet access. Elderly folks had basic old-age care, and all villagers had medical care coverage. Children were in school. Of course, meat was readily available. This made me kindly aware that the Chinese dream is, after all, a dream of the people. We can fulfill the Chinese dream only when we link it with our people's yearning for a better life.
Early in his political career, Xi had raised the alarm on the air pollution in China and measures to protect the environment in that country with a population of 1.3 billion people. On February 22, 2005, he published an article under the headline "The creation of the saving society is a social revolution" in his column New Words of Zhijiang. He said among other things: "The aim of the man for development and the limited sources of the Earth create a permanent contradiction. In ancient times it was said that 'nature gives birth to the plant with a limited timing, earth produces wealth with a space limitation, but man's wish is boundless'. This saying shows precisely this contradiction."
Twelve years later, in an address at the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on October 18, 2017, President Xi said people will see a fundamental improvement in the environment and the country will reach the targets set for building a Beautiful China by 2035. China will promote green growth via a series of measures, including policies on production and consumption, fueling the environmental protection services, and promoting green finance. On major pollution, China will make greater efforts to ensure a better environment, he said, and the government will continue efforts to win the fight against air pollution, and strengthen measures to tackle water and soil pollution.
In conclusion it can be said that it is noticeable that many ideas expressed by Xi in his articles and other media contributions dating back from 1984 to 2014 have served with the passing of time as source to turn into a guide for the future president to search solutions for many problems that China faces with. "All the problems that China has are interlinked with each other and cannot be handled separately," is Xi's conclusion drawn apparently even thanks to his experience as a local leader for whom media has been part of work.