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The Power of Xi Jinping’s Language

2018-02-07 15:17:00 Source:CHINA TODAY Author:ZHOU LIN
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Xi Jinping: Wit and Vision – Selected Quotations and Commentary


Chief Editor: Chen Xixi


Paperback, 288 pagesß


Published by Foreign Languages Press & SJTU Press


LANGUAGE has a magical power that can defeat even millions of troops. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speeches express wisdom in simple language that packs a powerful, piercing punch.


The book includes 70 entries featuring distinctive expressions selected from speeches given by Xi Jinping from the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China onwards. It is divided into four sections: Overview, Imagery and Metaphor, Everyday Sayings, and Quotations from the Classics.


The first entry is The Chinese Dream. President Xi says that, everyone has pursuits and ideals and everyone has their own dreams, sparking the imagination of listeners and readers. He then points out, “Our cause will not succeed if we do not incorporate individual living ideals into the great cause of strengthening the country and revitalizing the nation. Each Chinese woman and man must make protracted, arduous efforts to realize the Chinese Dream of rejuvenating the nation. And this dream embodies the long-cherished hopes of generations of the Chinese people.”


This book scrutinizes the origin and background of these expressions, and explains the ideas and wisdom therein. The chief editor is distinguished Professor Chen Xixi from Shanghai Jiaotong University, who also serves as the chief specialist of the Central Marxist Theory Research and Construction Project. He summarizes three facets of the book’s wisdom. First, Xi’s self-confidence in realizing the Chinese Dream; second, his perseverance in the essence of Chinese traditional culture; and third, his courage in facing issues that concern the common people. It is exactly from such wisdom in the whole context that the use of simple language displays such great power.


President Xi frequently uses analogies and anecdotes to express profound truths. His colloquial, straightforward language clarifies ideas which many may first find puzzling. His quotations arising from Chinese traditional culture nicely summarize his topics and thoroughly expound his propositions. For instance, such sayings as “hunt tigers and swat flies,” or “power must be kept caged by the system” are welcomed by ordinary people, because they are vivid and easy to understand. Xi’s philosophy on state governance is also expressed in readable, memorable and matter-of-fact language.


For example, when Xi Jinping spoke at the Central Rural Work Conference in late 2013, he observed, “The rice bowl of the Chinese people must be held firmly in our own hands. Our rice bowl should be filled primarily by Chinese cereals.” The book comments, “Xi Jinping uses the phrase ‘rice bowl’ to illustrate just how important food security is to a large developing country such as China. Our grain output has remained high for many years, yet this is all the more reason why we must remain vigilant about food security. In China, food security may be called the ballast that navigates social stability and keeps national development on an even keel.”


“Are we well-off? Ask the country folk.” When talking about building a moderately prosperous society, Xi Jinping says we must realize that agriculture still lags behind in achieving the “Four Modernizations,” and rural areas still lag in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Xi’s remarks that we must look to country folk to determine whether we are prosperous is richly textured. It is rooted in both the past – a continuance of Deng Xiaoping’s “three-step” strategy of development – as well as in the present. Xi’s point is that, when we conceive of a moderately prosperous society, we must take into account both total economic output and the quality of life; both the size of the “cake” and the way it is cut and distributed; both the “averages” and the “majority.” Having served as a Party branch secretary at the rural grassroots, Xi Jinping possesses a keen understanding of China’s rural life, and holds the issues of villages and villagers close to his heart. The only way a society can live up to the notion of “moderate prosperity in all respects” is if such prosperity is a reality in the lives of its rural people.


When Xi Jinping paid a visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013, he pointed out, “We want blue waters and green hills, but we also want mountains of gold and silver. We should prefer life on green hills rather than on mountains of gold – for blue waters and green hills are indeed mountains of gold and silver. We must never sacrifice our environment for the sake of short-term economic growth.” Xi used this analogy to explain the dialectical relationship between environmental protection and economic development, emphasizing that the two are not contradictory, but can rather reinforce and transform each other. As Xi Jinping once said, “Protecting the environment equates with protecting productivity, while improving the environment also equates with developing productivity.” This idea calls on all levels of government to transform from traditional resource-driven to innovation-driven development.


Chinese classics have also been quoted by Xi Jinping to explain his philosophy on state governance, for example, “Governing a great country is as delicate as frying a small fish,” and “Exaltation of the virtuous is fundamental to governance.” He observes, “Not all scholars must become officials, but all officials must be scholars” – to emphasize that it is critical for leading officials to focus on developing the causes of the Party and the country. He uses the phrase, “neglecting duty with empty talk” to criticize a work style that separates theory from practice. “Boundless is the ocean where we sail with the wind” describes the common development of the Asia-Pacific region; and “The sea is fed by all rivers; it is vast because of its size” is cited to encourage interaction between different cultures so they may assimilate and advance together. The Chinese classics quoted by Xi Jinping on various occasions represent the charm of China’s splendid culture, and also inspire people’s interest in learning the classics.


Chen Xixi asserts further: “The book tries to emulate the language style of Chinese President Xi Jinping, giving eminence to Xi’s powerful use of language. It aims at signifying the strategic thought guiding Xi’s governance of China, so inheriting outstanding Chinese traditional cultural strengths and courage in directly facing challenges and difficulties. Readers strongly sense Xi’s confidence in realizing the Chinese Dream, and the book helps us better understand the development of contemporary China and its future.”  

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