Sunday marks the 74th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
Addressing a grand reception in Beijing celebrating the occasion earlier this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the nation to firm up confidence and strive in unity to continue to surmount difficulties and march toward the goal of building a strong China and realizing national rejuvenation.
According to Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, patriotism has always been a source of spiritual strength that firmly unites the Chinese nation. He has encouraged the 1.4 billion Chinese people to weave their ideals into the future of the nation.
On multiple occasions, Xi recounted stories of iconic patriots from China's rich history, both ancient and contemporary. Among them, Yue Fei, a military commander during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), stands out vividly.
Yue is a paragon of loyalty in Chinese culture, known for his heroic battles against the invading Jin military from the north. Legend has it that Yue's mother tattooed four Chinese characters onto his back: "Jing Zhong Bao Guo," or "serve the country with unreserved loyalty."
Xi first encountered this legendary general in the pages of a childhood book.
When visiting a Beijing primary school in 2014, Xi encountered a group of students writing the characters "Jing Zhong Bao Guo" in calligraphy and was reminded of his childhood hero.
"My mother read me his story from picture books. 'Wouldn't it hurt to have his back tattooed?' I asked my mother," Xi recalled. "She said, 'Of course, it hurt. But in this way, it was also engraved on Yue's mind.'"
"Jing Zhong Bao Guo -- I have long remembered these four characters. They are the pursuit of my entire life," Xi told the students.
Xi has demonstrated this pursuit through actions, and, after assuming the Party's top post in 2012, he also asked Party members and cadres to learn from Yue's spirit of total devotion to the country and the people.
Another figure Xi has consistently held in high regard is Jiao Yulu, who was Party chief of Lankao County in central China's Henan Province in the early 1960s. Jiao's story has been recounted by Xi on multiple occasions as an example of selfless service to the people.
When Jiao was the Party chief, Lankao was plagued by sandstorms and had to battle against saline-alkali land and flooding, and its residents struggled to put food on the table.
Jiao worked tirelessly to tackle these problems, disregarding his own interests to improve the lot of the people. He often stayed in simple mud huts where poor farmers lived, eating and working with them.
Inspired by Jiao's example, the county's cadres worked together and eventually led Lankao to a stage where it was able to bid farewell to its chronic food shortages and sandstorms.
But Jiao did not live to see that day. He succumbed to liver cancer in 1964.
"I was deeply touched when I learned that Jiao kept on working, even in the late stages of his liver cancer, when he was suffering from great pain," Xi recalled.
During an inspection tour of Lankao in 2014, Xi urged Party members and cadres to use Jiao's spirit as a mirror to examine their problems and shortcomings. He called on them to emulate Jiao's unwavering dedication, and said that Jiao exemplified the essence of a devoted and industrious Party member and cadre.
Xi also gave high praise to contemporary individuals who devoted themselves to the cause of the nation.
In 2017, Xi urged society to learn from geophysicist Huang Danian for his patriotic devotion.
Huang, known for his expertise in deep-Earth exploration technology, studied and worked in Britain for 18 years before leaving his position there and returning to China in 2009. In the years that followed, he helped China soar in a number of technical fields, transforming the nation into one of the world's leaders in deep-Earth exploration.
Huang devoted his entire life to the prosperity of the country, the rejuvenation of the nation and the happiness of the people, Xi said, calling on the public to follow his example and learn from his patriotism, his professional dedication and his noble spirit in being indifferent to fame and wealth.