The Dizzy Onward March of Chinese Mobile Phones

In recent years, some enterprises in our country have engaged in a successful exploration of supply-side structural reform. For example, various cell phone brands, including foreign brands such as Motorola and Nokia, as well as some domestic brands, competed fiercely in our cell phone market, pushing some enterprises to the edge of bankruptcy. Such being the case, some Chinese enterprises have upgraded production and promoted original innovation while aiming at the high-end market and launching high-end smartphones. Satisfying customers’ demands for more diversified functions, higher operating speeds, clearer images, and a more fashionable appearance, these smartphones have won an increasing market share at home and abroad. The international cell phone market also endures fierce competition. Once-monopolistic brands such as Motorola, Nokia, and Ericsson no longer hold sway or even exist. After New Year’s Day, I visited a Chongqing company, whose thin-film transistor liquid crystal display provides a success story on supply-side reform. Over the past years, the industries of intelligent terminal products such as laptop as well as Chinese-brand automobiles have boomed in Chongqing, which has formed the world’s largest electronic information industrial cluster and China’s largest automobile industrial cluster. One of every three laptops in the world was made in Chongqing. This proves that we will definitely hew out our way of the struggle to industrially upgrade as long as we promote supply-side reform while aiming at specific markets.

  • Speech at the Study Session on Implementing the Decision of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, Attended by Officials at the Provincial/Ministerial Level (January 18, 2016).


The smartphone opened the door to the mobile Internet era. The changes in the mobile phone market show us the improvement of China’s innovation capacity and the effectiveness of our supply-side structural reform. A few years ago, Nokia, Motorola, and some other foreign brands dominated the Chinese mobile phone market. However, in recent years, they have presented continuously declining shipments and market shares; conversely, our domestic brands rose suddenly as a new force. In 2015, domestic mobile phones won a user attention rate of 51.3%, surpassing those of foreign brands. This means that the domestic mobile phone manufacturers are catching up with foreign manufacturers in terms of market influence. In the first three quarters of 2016, 371 million smartphones were delivered to dealers in the Chinese market. Huawei, OPPO, VIVO, iPhone, and Mi ranked as the top five brands in shipment volume, with four among them being Chinese brands. What is more, the Chinese brands are taking positive actions to go global. In the first half of 2016, Lenovo and Mi, respectively, ranked second and third among the best-selling brands in the Indian mobile phone market, and Huawei doubled its shipments to Europe.

Another success story about supply-side structural reform involves laptop production in Chongqing, a Chinese city. From the negotiations on introducing laptop manufacturers, Chongqing took just 7 years to become the world’s largest manufacturing base of laptops. In 2014, Chongqing produced nearly 200 million units (sets) of smart terminal products, among which the laptops reached 61 million sets, accounting for one-third of global laptop production. BOE Technology Group Co., Ltd., the Chongqing company to which Xi Jinping paid an inspection visit, is one of the world’s leading suppliers of semiconductor display technologies, products, and services, with a marketing and service system covering Europe, the US, Asia, and other major regions. The 8.5-generation thin-film transistor produced by BOE is of great strategic significance that has helped China’s semiconductor display industry to catch up with the international levels of advancement and push the development of China’s electronic information industry as a whole. At the same time, BOE has prioritized innovation, with 5,116 patent applications published in 2014 and 6,156 in 2015. Today it has accumulated over 40,000 workable patents. Innovation is not only the primary requirement of the development concept in this new era but it is also the necessary measure to further supply-side reform.

Sharing the story of changes in the domestic mobile phone market, Xi Jinping introduced Chongqing’s breakthroughs in the laptop and self-branded car industry and illustrated the significance of the improvement of China’s innovation capacity and the effectiveness of supply-side structural reform. This revealed a law of economic development to officials at all levels: the market always makes positive responses to successful paradigm-shifting innovation on the supply side. Simply put, it is the supply side that fundamentally pushes the development of a country.

How can we adapt to and navigate the economic new normal when faced with the pressures of an economic downturn? How can we achieve the requisite transformation and upgrading of our economic development? Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed the need to strengthen structural reforms on the supply side: “This is an important innovation and an inevitable requirement for adapting to and leading the new normal of economic development, and an active choice to adapt to the new situation of the competition in comprehensive national strength after the international financial crisis.” He has additionally stated that “Every technological and industrial revolution will boost productivity, creating unimaginable supply capacity.” This requires officials at all levels to enhance their initiative and enthusiasm for promoting supply-side structural reform, implementing the “five tasks” properly, and making great effort to improve the quality and efficiency of the supply system to promote the transformation and upgrading of China’s economy.

“Prepare to Suffer Losses”

In 1945, Comrade Mao Zedong produced a report on the Seventh National Congress of the CPC, in which he discussed the following issues that required consideration in preparation for the difficulties challenging China at the time: first, international hostility; second, domestic hostility; third, several of our major bases had been seized by the Kuomintang; fourth, nearly ten thousand soldiers could be wiped out by the Kuomintang; fifth, the puppet troops had welcomed Chiang Kai-shek; sixth, a civil war had broken out; seventh, China would be trapped on the road to Greece by our own “Ronald Scobie;” eighth, “The People’s Republic of Poland was not recognized,” meaning that the status of the Communist Party had not been recognized; ninth, tens of thousands of Party members had either defected or lost contact with Party organizations; tenth, some Party members had become tired and pessimistic; eleventh, catastrophic natural disasters had struck; twelfth, financial difficulties; thirteenth, the enemy had deployed its main force in North China; fourteenth, the Kuomintang had been assassinating Party members in leading positions; fifteenth, disputes in the Party’s leadership; sixteenth, we would remain in disfavor with international proletariat organizations; and seventeenth, we would encounter other unpredictable difficulties. Mao went on to say, “Many things cannot be predicted. But we, especially the senior leading cadres, must be prepared to tackle extremely difficult situations and adversity. We must be clear-headed about this.” Comrade Deng Xiaoping also repeatedly stressed, “At the same time, we should base our work on the possible emergence of serious problems and prepare for them. In this way, even if the worst should happen, the sky will not fall.” We have heard of many such profound views from comrades Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao. They represent and convey important political experience and wisdom in governing our Party and country.

  • Speech at the Study Session on Implementing the Decision of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, Attended by Officials at the Provincial/Ministerial Level (January 18, 2016).


Mao Zedong was a strategic master in bottom-line thinking in the history of the CPC. In his view, we should always be prepared for the most difficult and the worst while striving for the best result. This is a methodology of thinking, of working, and of leadership. The story told by Xi Jinping reflected such bottom-line thinking.

In opening the Seventh National Congress of the CPC, the Party experienced a great change. Through the Yan’an Rectification Movement, the whole Party achieved a great awakening and reached a new level of unity in thought and action. It developed into an experienced and powerful party with 1.21 million members, becoming “the core force to lead the Chinese people to resist Japanese aggression and save our nation.” It was also said that “the core force leads the liberation of the Chinese people” and “the core force will defeat the invaders and build up a new China.” Under its leadership, the people’s army expanded in size to 910,000 soldiers, the people’s militia to 2.2 million people, and the population of the liberated area reached 95.5 million. As Mao Zedong said, “The CPC has never been stronger than it is now. The revolutionary base areas have never had populations and troops larger than those they have today. The prestige of the CPC among the people in the areas ruled by Japan or the Kuomintang has hit a record high. And the strength of the people’s revolutionary force in the Soviet Union and other countries has also reached an all-time high. It should be said that it is entirely possible to defeat the invaders and build up a new China under these conditions.”

Nevertheless, while the people could cheer for such favorable international and domestic situations, in his report to the Seventh National Congress of the CPC, Mao cautioned the Party to be prepared for the suffering of losses. He noted that our Party needed to be prepared for even more difficulties as they faced a bright future, and, unexpectedly, he even agreed with the viewpoint “There is a possibility that China will become a semi-colony of the US.” Meanwhile, he also outlined 17 potential difficulties. They were the embodiment of Mao Zedong’s way of thinking and art of leadership: “base our policies on the worst possibilities.” They were also examples for us to adhere to as we make good use of bottom-line thinking.

At present and in the coming period, we are facing and will face many contradictions, risks, and challenges at home and abroad. Various sources of contradictions and various risk points are interwoven and interact with one another. In this context, Xi Jinping has told stories about Party leaders such as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping and how they took advantage of bottom-line thinking. In doing so, he requires leaders and officials at all levels to make good use of the method of bottom-line thinking and to prepare for the worst while striving for the best result.

During the Program of Mass Line Education and Practice, Xi Jinping warned, “If we fail to eliminate misconduct from the Party, the tragedy of ‘Farewell My Concubine’ will come true.” At the Celebration Ceremony of the 95th Anniversary of the Founding of the CPC, he also urged that “We must be ready at all times to respond to great trials, withstand great risks, overcome great obstacles, and address great challenges.” He has stressed repeatedly that “If we fail to take precautions against contradictions, risks and challenges in a timely manner and cope with them properly, the results will be conduction, superposition, evolution and an upgrading of them, upon which the negligible ones will grow into great ones, those occurring locally will form a system of contradictions, risks and challenges, those affecting the world will evolve into those affecting our country, and those in the fields of economy, society, culture and ecology will turn into political contradictions, risks and challenges. These will eventually endanger our Party’s ruling position and endanger national security.”

We are engaged in a great struggle with many new historical features. Therefore, Party officials at all levels should enhance risk awareness, make good use of bottom-line thinking, and follow Xi Jinping’s instructions: “Prepare for any form of contradictions, risks and challenges.”

The Chinese Miracle

In ancient China, agriculture was the foundation on which our nation developed. As a result, for a long time, ancient China led the world in farming. In the Han Dynasty, it had a population topping 60 million and a cultivated area exceeding 53 million hectares. In the Tang Dynasty, Chang’an City covered an area of more than 80 sq km, with a population of over 1 million. Additionally, the palaces in the city were resplendent and magnificent, the pagodas of Buddhist temples soared high, and the eastern and western markets were quite prosperous and bustling. For this reason, a poem by the Tang poet Cen Shen wrote, “There are one million households in Chang’an City.” In the Northern Song Dynasty, China developed into the richest country in the world at that time, with its national tax revenue reaching up to 160 million strings of coins [one string contained 1,000 coins]. At that time, none of the cities of London, Paris, Venice, or Florence had a population of 100,000, but China hosted nearly 50 cities with such a population size or larger.

At the start of the Industrial Revolution, we began to fall behind, accompanied by the development of the West. After the Opium War, China’s self-sufficient natural economy gradually disintegrated, and at the same time, it missed the opportunity of the Industrial Revolution. Although progress was made in our industry, and some foreign capital entered China—for instance, the concessions in Shanghai, Tianjin’s industry, and Wuhan’s military industry—China as a whole was an impoverished, backward, and war-torn country, falling way behind. This situation remained for more than 100 years.

Following the founding of new China in 1949, the people began large-scale industrial development under the leadership of the CPC. Mao Zedong proposed that what we should do was “to modernize our industry, agriculture, science, culture and national defense.” In the 1950s, remarkable achievements were made in our national construction. Later, however, because of the “Leftist” errors in the Party’s guiding thought, we entered the 10-year-long turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. At that time, we had not yet understood the law of socialist construction. All of these aspects hindered large-scale industrial development.

It was the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee in 1978 that opened the door of reform and opening up that drove us to a new historical era. Over the past 38 years, despite all kinds of difficulties, China created a miracle—it has maintained rapid economic growth for a period longer than any other country since the end of World War II. China’s economy ranked 11th in the world at the beginning of the reform and opening up; in 2005, 2006, and 2007, it surpassed France, the UK, and Germany in succession to reach the fifth, fourth, and third places, respectively; in 2009, it moved into the second place by overtaking Japan. In 2010, the scale of its manufacturing industry surpassed the US, ranking first in the world. Within a few decades, we have completed the development course that had took several hundred years in the developed countries. This was a miraculous achievement in world history.

  • Speech at the Study Session on Implementing the Decision of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, Attended by Officials at the Provincial/Ministerial Level (January 18, 2016).


The heyday of the Tang and Han Dynasties is not only imprinted in the collective memory of the Chinese people but it also occupies an important position in the history of human civilization. It represents the peak of universal civilization at that time.

It is said that, in its heyday, the area of the territory of Tang reached 12.51 million square kilometers, which spread all the way to the Korean Peninsula in the east, the Aral Sea in Central Asia in the west, Hue, Vietnam in the south, and Lake Baikal in the north. In regard to the prosperous Tang, it leaves people with an impression of elegance and magnificence as well as inclusiveness and open-mindedness. It was a highly civilized dynasty holding to the principle that courtesy demands reciprocity and sustaining a culture of nobility and confidence. At that time, Chang’an was an international metropolis, attracting businessmen from Central Asia, South Asia, Japan, Arabia, and other countries and regions, most of which were the “Hu merchants” from Central Asia, Persia, and Arabia. These foreign businessmen not only engaged in trade in China but they were also allowed to marry and start a family; they were even given the opportunity to serve as government officials. According to the data, 29 of the prime ministers of Tang were foreigners, while the number of foreigners serving as officials were as many as 3,000. There is a detailed analysis of Tang’ prosperity and openness in the Study in History by Wang Guowei: “In the South China Sea, there are merchant ships from the Arab Empire. In Chang’an, there are Zoroastrian temples built by Persians. Foreigners flock here like they are returning home because the Tang Dynasty is in the middle of its heyday.”

This prosperity continued to the Song Dynasty. We can learn of the Song’s spectacular development in industry, commerce, and urban development from the world-famous painting Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival. However, in the Ming and Qing dynasties, while the western countries were at the beginning of industrialization, the feudal dynasties of China became increasingly conservative and rigid. They cut off our nation from the outside world, causing us to miss a golden opportunity to modernize. Although some movements were initiated in modern times such as the Westernization Movement and the initiative to save the nation represented by the Chinese people’s pursuit of industrialization, they all ended in failure because they took the wrong paths. Since the founding of new China, especially since the reform and opening up, we Chinese people have found the correct road of developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. Along this path, we have promoted industrialization in our country, which has a long history of agriculture that enabled modern civilization to grow from our ancient civilization. We have also accomplished a feat that is unprecedented in human history—leading one billion people to modernization.

History is the best textbook and the most effective medicine for sobering up society. Xi Jinping is a person who pays special attention to gaining experience and drawing lessons from history. Using history as a mirror and having an extensive view of history, in his speeches he often provides analysis on the present and speculates about the future. Tracing the forward movement of the long river of history, he has recalled the brilliant achievements of ancient China, reflected on the humiliation undergone by modern China due to backwardness and analyzed the swift progress achieved by contemporary China by taking opportunity of tight corners. This has provided a panoramic view of Chinese history as it developed from ancient times until today. When he presents figures, details, and stories about the course of China over time, we can clearly feel the strong pulse of history and obtain a sense of China’s past, present, and future.

As for history, Xi Jinping has a grand field of vision and has a coordinated graph in his mind. This coordinated graph is composed of 5000 years of brilliant agricultural civilization, more than 100 years of humiliating history, full of ups and downs, and nearly 40 years of heart-stirring reform and opening up. It is a continuum, from which can we more accurately grasp the direction of China’s reform and development and obtain a deeper understanding of the significance of the new concept of “innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development” for China’s future. As Zhu Xi, a Chinese philosopher of the Song dynasty, put forward, “The more you know about a thing, the more solid action you can take on it.” Xi has put the new concept of China’s development in the context of history. By examining the dimensions of both time and space and contrasting the past and the present, he intends to provide a clearer display of the truth and the contemporary significance of the new development concept, and make it possible for the new concept to serve as a spiritual force as well as practical guide for the transformation of the objective world.

The World’s Top Eight Pollution Incidents

In the last century, the top eight pollution incidents that occurred in Western countries greatly affected the eco-environment and public life. The Los Angeles Photochemical Smog in the 1940s killed nearly 1,000 people and caused more than 75% of local people to suffer from pinkeye. In December 1952, when the Great London Smog broke out, it caused approximately 4,000 deaths in only a few days during its first outbreak. In the ensuing 2 months, nearly 8,000 people died of respiratory diseases. Later, the city was stricken by 12 severe smog attacks in 1956, 1957, and 1962. In Japan, a factory discharged wastewater containing methylmercury directly into Minamata Bay, such that nearly 1,000 people who ate contaminated fish and shellfish suffered from severe mercury poisoning and up to 20,000 people were exposed to the threat of mercury poisoning. This was the Minamata Disease of Japan. The book Silent Spring by American writer Rachel Carson gives a detailed account of the situation.

  • Speech at the Study Session on Implementing the Decision of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, Attended by Officials at the Provincial/Ministerial Level (January 18, 2016).


Marx and Engels wrote, “The subjection of ’nature’s forces on man, machinery, the application of chemistry in industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, the clearing of whole continents for cultivation, the canalization of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground—what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces that slumbered in the lap of social labor?” In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels explained the impact of industrial civilization on the development of human society in such a powerful way. Science and technology create amazing material wealth for us; however, they are accompanied by great damage to the ecological environment.

The world’s environmental pollution incidents, in extreme ways, present the tragic consequences of environmental pollution, thus alerting people to the painful consequences. The world’s top eight pollution incidents are the Meuse Valley Fog in Belgium, the Great Smog in London, Yokkaichi Asthma in Japan, Yusho Disease in Japan, Minamata Disease in Japan, the Los Angeles Photochemical Smog, the Donora Smog in the US, and Itai-itai Disease in Japan.

The Meuse Valley Fog in Belgium was the earliest pollution incident among the world’s top eight pollution incidents, and it was the first recorded air pollution tragedy in the twentieth century. Along the Meuse River, a 24 km river valley was dotted with heavy industrial plants that engaged in processes such as coking, steelmaking, power generation, glass making, zinc smelting, sulfuric acid production, and fertilizer production. On December 1, 1930, a dense fog came to shroud Belgium, especially the Meuse Valley. On the third day of this freakish weather, thousands of people suffered from respiratory diseases. This incident killed a total of 63 people, 10.5 times the normal death rate in the same period of the previous years. Unfortunately, at that time, the disaster did not garner people’s attention. Human beings continued to drive industry forward triumphantly at the expense of the environment. The consequences were the tragedies of environmental pollution.

Silent Spring is a book promoting global environmental protection. For the first time in human history, it voiced the question of the absolute correctness of “human’s declaration of war against nature,” and it raised awareness of ecological civilization.

Xi Jinping expressed his high attention to environmental protection and green development by relating the world’s top eight pollution incidents and introducing Silent Spring. The lingering smog “is hurting our ability to breathe”; groundwater pollution has aroused widespread concern; vegetation deterioration is leading to desertification. The many ecological environmental problems accumulated over the years not only impair people’s livelihood but they also tend to breed social ills. Xi Jinping stressed, “Our country’s contradiction in the ecological environment was not generated overnight, but rather it was an outcome of long-term accumulation. Yet we cannot aggravate it. We communists should have such a breadth of vision and aspiration.” This points the way for the rapidly modernizing China: we should open up a new path in which ecology and development complement each other by comprehensively implementing “green development,” without following the footsteps of the West in adopting the practice of “treatment after pollution.”

Liu Qing Settled in Huangpu Village for Literary Inspiration

In 1982, when I was preparing to leave for Zhengding County, Hebei Province, for a new appointment, many friends came to bid me farewell, including Wang Yuanjian, a writer and playwright from August First Film Studio. He urged me, “In the rural area, you should learn from Liu Qing, staying close to and going deep among the local farmers.” To immerse himself in rural life, Liu Qing resigned from his position of Deputy Party Secretary of Chang’an County, Shaanxi Province, while remaining a member of the standing committee of the country Party committee, and he had moved to Huangpu Village. He lived for 14 years, concentrating on the creation of his novel The Builders of a New Life. His immersion in rural life in the Guanzhong area of Shaanxi explains the lifelike characters in his books. Being so well acquainted with farmers, he was able to immediately know whether they would be happy about any new policy concerning agriculture or rural residents.

  • Speech at the Symposium on Literature and Art (October 15, 2014).


Liu Qing, whose former name was Liu Yunhua, was a famous contemporary writer of China. Born in a poor peasant family, he began writing in the 1930s and published his first novel, The Story of Cultivating Millet, in 1947. In 1960, Liu Qing completed his epic novel The Builders of a New Life on the basis of his 14-year rural life, which established his position in the history of Chinese literature.

2016 was his centenary year. Different from other writers who revel in digging into books indoors, he took the initiative to settle in Huangpu Village, Chang’an County, Shaanxi Province for 14 years. As a result, he knew people of all types in the countryside as well as their customs and way of thinking. These provided him with inexhaustible source material for creating The Builders of a New Life. He was, as it were, a paragon of the spirit of the Yan’an Forum on Literature and Art and an example to the world of literature and art of “going deep into life and going deep among the populace.”

Liu Qing knew well the joys and sorrows of the villagers, so he succeeded in creating a number of literary characters such as Liang Shengbao, old man Liang San, Guo Shifu, Yao Shijie, and Guo Zhenshan, and he showed China’s magnificent history of socialist transformation of agriculture through these vivid characters. Not describing the characters in a dull, flat way, he skillfully depicted their complex inner worlds. It is said that without his 14 years of rural life, he couldn’t have completed The Builders of a New Life, which conveys a believable world.

His experience of living among the populace endowed the work with timeless vitality and influence. In the history of Chinese contemporary literature, there are four representative works of 17-year literature: Keep the Red Flag Flying, Red Crag, Red Sun and the generally acknowledged red classic, The Builders of a New Life.

“The ‘for whom’ question is the most fundamental—a question of principle.” In 1942, Mao Zedong put forward a basic direction that shocked and enlightened the world of literature and art: literature and art should be used to serve workers, peasants, and soldiers as well as the people. Upon 70 years of kaleidoscopic changes, the notion of “to serve the people” has been imprinted on the values of socialist literature and art. At the Symposium on Literature and Art held in October 2014, Xi Jinping recounted Liu Qing’s story of going deep among the populace to reiterate the fundamental values that “literature and art should serve the people” in this day when people’s views and values are undergoing profound changes and diverse cultures are emerging. These fundamental values will guide the development of socialist literature and art. Xi Jinping said “You should adhere to people-oriented creation.” In his view, the people are not an abstract symbol but real persons, with flesh and blood, with emotions, with love and hate. They have dreams. Sometimes they argue among themselves, and sometimes they struggle to break free from a situation. Therefore, we should not merely pay lip service to the slogan of people-orientation, nor can we further our own feelings about the people. The world is shared by everybody, while China belongs to we Chinese. Only by deepening our roots into our people can Chinese literature and art achieve an inexhaustible power of growth.

The “Governor” Is Coming

I once stated that a County Party Secretary should visit all the villages in the county, a municipal or Prefectural Party Secretary should visit all the districts and townships in the city, and a Provincial Party Secretary should visit all the counties and cities in the province. I did it. When I served as County Party Secretary of Zhengding, I visited all the villages under Zhengding, sometimes even by bike. And when I served as Party Secretary of Fuzhou and Ningde, I traveled to all townships under them. At that time, although there were four towns in Ningde with no access to road transportation, I visited three among them. I did not visit the other because I was transferred to another place and had no chance to pay the visit. There was a town named Xiadang, which for me to get to I had to cut my way through brambles and thistles and travel over mountains and rivers. The Party Secretary of the town led the way for us and cut weeds in our way with a chopper. He said this way was the nearest one, along the river. “‘Governor’ is coming,” the civilians said along the way. They called the Party Secretary “governor,” an appellation of the prefectural governor in ancient China. The civilians welcomed us with barrels of cold drinks made of local herbs and mung bean soup, and they said, “Have a drink. You have had a hard time getting here.” Xiadang Town is under Shouning County, where Feng Menglong, the author of Stories to Enlighten the World, Stories to Warn the World and Stories to Awaken the World, had served as Governor in the Ming Dynasty. He traveled through Shouning throughout the first half-year of his tenure. I thought to myself on the way, if a governor of great talent in the feudal times could overcome untold hardships to get there, should we communists be less competent or conscientious than a feudal official? Arriving there, I saw that the office of the Township Party Committee was set in a reformed bullpen, and it was very small. As you know, galley bridges prevail in South China. In those days, we decorated a bridge as a temporary office by putting several bamboo chairs on it and partitioning it with a simple screen. We had meetings, meals, rests, and baths all on the bridge. Now, Xiadang Town has a totally new look. At that time, I saw several churches there. Who built them? The western missionaries of the eighteenth century. No matter what their purpose was, their sense of mission to missionary work was comparable to the sense of mission of our CPC! When I was Party Secretary of Zhejiang Province, I put forward the strategy of “making full use of eight advantages and implementing eight major measures” for the development of Zhejiang after visiting all the counties, cities, and districts in the province. What does that mean? That means we must have a thorough understanding of the situation and grasp first-hand information. Do not merely wait for someone to collect information for you. We are not infants who need to be fed by others. Nowadays, the means to understand a situation are becoming more and more diversified, including telephone, Weibo, and WeChat. They are all very effective. Thus, we have a better approach to mass work.

  • Speech at the Enlarged Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Lankao County Party Committee of Henan Province (March 18, 2014).


Feng Menglong was an outstanding writer and opera writer in the Ming Dynasty. His Stories to Enlighten the World, Stories to Warn the World and Stories to Awaken the World are praised as classical representatives of the vernacular short stories of ancient China. However, little is known about how he was also an incorruptible official who was diligent in political affairs and loved the people. In 1634, Feng Menglong, who had already reached 60, assumed the post of Governor of Shouning County, Fujian Province. During his 4-year tenure, he earned a fine reputation for “promoting streamlined administration and fair and clear punishment, advocating literature, favoring the people and treating other officials politely.”

At the beginning of his tenure, he conducted a thorough investigation into Shouning to understand the actual situation there. Concerned about agricultural production, he became aware that many fields in Shouning were reclaimed by chiseling stones, and seedlings could be planted once the sandy soil was reclaimed. He knew well that in general, fields will become fertile when they are irrigated by water veins unimpeded; if the water veins are backed up with silt, the fields will turn barren. Upon investigation, he found that although fertilization is necessary for agricultural production, it should be forbidden to produce manure by burning leaves because when people have burned fallen leaves on the mountains in winter, the smog produced would cover certain areas, and the fire could also burn the trees because when they burned the fallen leaves and withered grass on the open ground, they often caused fires. This was first-hand information that he obtained through field investigations.

Xi worked for 2 years in Ningde, the jurisdiction under which Shouning is situated; thus, he traveled to some of the places where Feng Menglong had traveled. The same as Feng, Xi Jinping traveled through all the nine counties under Ningde within the first 3 months after he assumed office, and after that, he further visited throughout the vast majority of towns and villages there, including Xiadang Town under Shouning County. When Xi Jinping visited Xiadang Town for the first time on July 19, 1989, it was a town that lacked roads, running water, light, revenue, or a government office. The people living in the town had to walk more than 10 km over mountains to get to any adjacent town or village, and they had to shoulder items or carry them on their backs to sell them to or buy them from the outer world. To get to the town, Xi Jinping walked on the rugged mountain roads for several hours. On July 26, 1989, he visited Xiadang Town again after a 3 km walk in the rain to inspect the flood situation in Xiapingfeng Village and to express his sincere solicitude for the disaster-affected people. Such investigations embodied the practical working style advocated by him—we must obtain first-hand information through in-person practice.

Feng Menglong “travelled through Shouning throughout the first half-year in his tenure”, and Xi Jinping “cut his way through brambles and thistles and travelled over mountains and rivers” to inspect the towns and villages. Xi Jinping narrated these stories precisely to reiterate the importance of investigation and to stimulate officials to go deep into the grassroots and stay close to the populace.

Xi has stressed that “Investigation is the foundation for doing things and the way toward success. He who makes no investigation has no right to speak, and, of course, has no right to make decisions.” He has encouraged officials to experience grassroots work, “It is better to see a thing than to hear it, but it is further better to practice it than to see it.” Citing the old sayings, “For food, only the one who tastes it knows whether it is sweet or bitter; for a road, only the one who takes it knows whether it is smooth or bumpy” and “What is learned from books is superficial after all. It is crucial to have it personally tested somehow,” he teaches the officials to base judgement on practice and calls on them to resist untrue statements and not to be engaged in hypocrisy.

It Takes Time to Achieve Maturity in a Governance System

From the start of the Bourgeois Revolution in 1640, Britain took several decades to evolve the Glorious Revolution of 1688. It then took an even longer time to mature its system. It took nearly 90 years for the new system of the US to become stabilized, from the American War of Independence, which broke out in 1775 through the close of the Civil War in 1865. During more than 80 years after 1789, at the start of the Bourgeois Revolution in France, to 1870, with the fall of the Second Empire and the founding of the Third Republic, France never stopped vacillating between restoration and anti-restoration. Even Japan, which had begun the Meiji Restoration as early as 1868, did not attain the system it has today until the end of World War II.

  • Speech at the Study Session on Implementing the Decision of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee and Comprehensively Deepening the Reform, Attended by Officials at the Provincial/Ministerial Level (February 17, 2014).


Is the maturity of a governance system a sudden change accomplished at one stroke or an endogenous evolution advanced gradually? When the Western countries celebrate the theory of “the end of history” and promote their governance system and values to the whole world, they forget that the present-day governance system they employ was not inherent but the outcome of decades of or even a century of struggle, turbulence, and change.

None of the developed countries, including the UK, the US, France, and Japan, has eschewed such a process. Taking France as an example, during the French Revolution in 1789, the French people shouted the slogan “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.” However, they did not have this vision realized at one go after the success of the Revolution. In the period of Jacobin dictatorship, 1,376 people were executed in Paris within just 48 days, from June 10, 1794, when the Law of 22 Prairial was enacted, to July 27, on which day the Thermidorian Reaction broke out: “The passion of the crowd died away in a pool of blood… The revolution devoured its own children.” Historians have described the Revolution as such. After the Revolution, France continued to vacillate between revolution and restoration, between republic and monarchy, and between democracy and autocracy for 150 years. According to the studies, France underwent eight revolutions during 1800 and 1949 and did not achieve real stability until the end of World War II. The long period France went through to stabilize its governance system proved that it takes time to achieve a system’s maturity. Another example is from the US. After the victory of the American War of Independence, the US did not establish as a “union” with inner cohesion but rather it was more like a group of loosely connected states. It maintained this condition until the Lincoln Administration won the Civil War. The Lincoln Administration defended the unity of the US by force, laying the foundation for the country as a complete political entity. This course took nearly 90 years.

From the governance system development of countries such as the UK, the US, France, and Japan, Xi Jinping arrived at a conclusion: a governance system cannot mature overnight because it requires a process of gradual improvement. Hence, this naturally speaks to China’s future: like that of the Western countries, the development of China’s governance system will go through a gradual improvement and gradual maturity.

Xi has also stressed repeatedly that the type of governance system best suited for a country is unique, which is “developed and gradually improved over a long period of time on the basis of our historical heritage, cultural traditions, and social and economic development.” By introducing the historical changes in the governance systems of some developed countries, he reveals the internal logic of the maturity of governance systems and shows us historical thinking and historical vision.

Discipline Must not Become a Dusty Document

For our Party, the question is how to strengthen Party discipline and run it with strict discipline. The key is strict discipline. In October 1964, Comrade Zhou Enlai stated in a speech at the Conference of Performers of the Song and Dance Epic The East Is Red that Comrade Mao Zedong defined our Party as “a party that is subject to discipline, armed with the theories of Marxism-Leninism, adopts the method of self-criticism and stays close to the masses.” “It is no coincidence that Comrade Mao Zedong places discipline at the forefront. This is the very first precondition for our Party to adhere to the revolution, defeat the enemy and win the victory,” said Zhou. Officials fall into wrong paths because they breach discipline. Thus, we must strictly and comprehensively enforce Party discipline. Our compliance with Party discipline should be unconditional. We must turn our words into action and ensure that Party discipline is fully implemented and that any violation is investigated. We must not allow our discipline to become a dusty document resting on the top shelf.

  • Speech at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (January 14, 2014).


The East Is Red is a song and dance epic directed by Zhou Enlai to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Produced within just 2 months, this film assembled more than 3,500 performers. It premiered at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 2, 1964, after which it was played 14 times in front of a packed hall. The splendor of the occasion surpassed anything heretofore seen. This song and dance epic dramatizes the history of modern China, from the founding of the CPC to the establishment of new China, during which time the Chinese people, under the leadership of the CPC underwent an extremely hard and bitter revolution and struggle and finally achieved national independence and the people’s liberation. The East Is Red is a moving musical that compresses the course of hard struggle during which our Party grew from a small and weak party into a huge and powerful one.

Zhou Enlai was not only concerned with the production of the film but he also valued the ideological effect on the performers. To give the performers a better idea of the painstaking process of the CPC leading the Chinese people to establish new China, he presented a report on the history of the CPC in the Great Hall of the People for several hours. The vivid report made them understand that the victory of the revolution was hard-won, which stimulated them to further cherish their current life, led them to reach consensus, and further excited their enthusiasm for the performance.

“Places discipline at the forefront”—these words in Zhou’s report can be regarded as the CPC’s “password” to one victory after another. Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and many proletarian revolutionaries of the older generation all highly valued discipline. They not only bequeathed a wealth of theories but they also practiced what they preached to defend the authority of discipline. In the autumn of 1927, some soldiers of the CPC dug potatoes out of the civilian fields on their way to the Jinggang Mountains. This event aroused Mao Zedong’s reflection. Shortly after, he declared the Three Rules of Discipline to the army, one among which was “Do not take a single needle or piece of thread from the masses.” It was the potatoes that drew forth the Three Rules of Discipline and the Six Points for Attention. Zhou Enlai also enforced strict discipline on himself and those around him. During the Yan’an Rectification Movement, the South Bureau set a Day of Party Activities every week. A responsible official of a department was a senior Party member who joined the Party early in the Great Revolution period; however, every time he attended a meeting, he carried a cane chair and sat in it with his legs crossed while listening to reports. Seeing this, Zhou Enlai once asked him to stand up and said to him in earnest, “Are you observing and studying discipline in this way?” “The earlier you joined the Party, the more you need to observe discipline!”

Xi Jinping’s telling the stories of the older generation of proletarian revolutionaries and citing the classic sayings of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai was fully intended to stress the extreme importance of “discipline”. From the war-ridden revolutionary years to the nation-building period in full swing, to the vigorous reform era, strict and impartial discipline was always an important weapon for our Party to win one victory after another.

Xi Jinping has a clear understanding of and made explicit requirements to strengthen Party discipline. In his first meeting with Chinese and foreign journalists as General Secretary, he stated forcefully, “It takes good iron to make good products,” and he demanded that “The whole Party must stay on full alert.” Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the Party has been carrying out complementary campaigns of anti-corruption and work style rectification, which have not only gouged out tumors from the Party and purified the inner-Party’s ecological environment but it has also strengthened our Party. These approaches have converged in our strong strategy of strengthening Party discipline, demonstrating our firm determination and great courage in carrying the campaigns through to the end. They have also refreshed the work style of our Party and our government and invigorated our Party and our people. As Xi said, “We must not allow our discipline to become a dusty document resting on the top shelf.” This is the key point of our strategy.

Literary China

More than 900 years ago, when Su Dongpo was banished to Danzhou, Hainan Province, he produced many poems about the scenery of Hainan, such as “The moon brightens as the clouds are dispersed that any embellishment is superfluous in the night sky because the sky and the sea are pure and limpid enough,” “The torrent spring down three thousand feet from high, pairs of cranes fly low” and “The jewel-like flesh breaks through the red litchi skin, while the mandarin oranges overflow with sweet juice.” When I visited Hunan Province, I also praised the beautiful scenery there before the local comrades. Comrade Mao Zedong wrote in the Reply to a Friend that, “Dongting Lake’s snow-topped waves surge skyward; the long isle reverberates with earth-shaking song. And I am lost in dream, untrammeled dreams of the land of hibiscus glowing in the morning sun.” Fan Zhongyan, the writer of the Song Dynasty, wrote the lines in The Yueyang Tower that “The sky and the lake are tinged with the same hue, making up an infinitely huge canvas of light blue, on which white gulls are hovering in bevies and fish shimmering with silvery scales. And the lake shores adorned with irises and sandbars dotted with orchids are all enshrouded in a sweet and lush green. Sometimes the broad firmament is clear of all mist, a bright moon shines over the vast lake gleaming with a golden glow, and the moon’s reflection in the watery mirror reminds one of sunken jade.” (Translated by Dai Kangxuan and Xie Baikui, 1996) What a lovely view! During that trip, I also visited Xiangxi and recalled the scenery of Xiangxi described by Shen Congwen in his Border Town and Xiaoxiao.

  • Speech at the Central Conference on Rural Work (December 23, 2013).


When a reader comes across beautiful scenery in a literary work, he is pulled into a realm of spiritual travel. He can follow Su Dongpo to take a trip of banishment to the southern border of the country; he can climb high with Fan Zhongyan to enjoy a distant view; he can get an idea of Chairman Mao Zedong’s passion for poetry; and he can stand in front of the fine view that Shen Congwen enjoyed to feel what he felt.

Wonderful scenery may stir one to compose poems, and it may even give the viewer comfort. Su Dongpo was banished to Danzhou, Hainan Province, in his 60s, before which he had been banished to Huizhou, a city south of the Five Ridges. In Danzhou, he lived a life rougher than in Huizhou. When he first arrived there, he sought shelter at a public house that was worn down by years without repair, so that he could not take cover from rain. Having no way out, he was forced to build a thatched cottage manually in the forest of Arenga pinnata. He named his cottage “Hut of Arenga Pinnata”. Living in the hut, “although he could only satisfy his hunger with yams and quench his thirst with water, he took delight in writing.” Lonesome though the island where he lived was, Su Dongpo recorded the wonderful landscapes in lines such as “The torrent springs down three thousand feet from high, pairs of cranes fly low” and “The jewel-like flesh breaks through the red litchi shell, while the mandarin oranges overflow with sweet juice,” and he cultivated a magnanimous mind without a care. He even left the lines “I do not hate the plight I experienced in this desolate area in the South at all, although it has many times pushed me to the edge of death because it has enabled me to enjoy an unsurpassably wonderful trip” when he was saying goodbye to the 3 years of tribulation in Danzhou.

The Yueyang Tower is a masterpiece in the history of Chinese literature that Fan Zhongyan composed after being banished to Dengzhou, Henan Province. Being thrown into similar straits, his friend Teng Zijing was banished to Yueyang, Hunan Province. Yet Teng did not become dispirited. He made great efforts to rebuild the Yueyang Tower and invited Fan, who was thousands of miles away from him then, to write a memorial article for the tower. Viewing the Painting of Autumn Night by Dongting Lake sent from Teng and spreading the wings of imagination, Fan grabbed his pen with a flourish and finished the famous work The Yueyang Tower. The philosophy he set forth in the article, “To be the first in the country to worry about the affairs of the state and the last in the country to enjoy oneself,” has been revered by the Chinese people from generation to generation as a spiritual treasure of our nation. In modern times, we find that Mao Zedong also liked taking advantage of a scene to express his emotion. He expressed his yearning for an ideal society through the verses “I am lost in dream, untrammeled dreams of the land of hibiscus” in Reply to a Friend. We also have a pure land in our deep soul, which originated from Border Town, Xiaoxiao and other works by Shen Congwen.

Xi Jinping quoted these immortal lines about beautiful scenery on the occasion of discussing ecological civilization construction at the Central Conference on Rural Work because we need to delineate the “beautiful China” that lives in our memory. That is what we are yearning for and about which we must care with all our heart. Those immortal words will show us the way to the “beautiful China”. Xi Jinping once indicated the direction of our urbanization—“to enable the people to have green hills and blue streams in sight and to bear the image of their homeland in mind.” Is this not a vision for building a beautiful China? Retaining the beautiful China in literary works is also to preserve the sweet memory and pursue a bright future for our Chinese nation.

The Lost 200 Years

Looking back on modern history, we are more keenly aware of the extreme importance of seizing opportunities and catching up with the times. The 100 years between the mid-eighteenth century and mid-nineteenth century were the beginning and flourishing period of the industrial revolution. However, during this period, the rulers of the Qing Dynasty sequestered our country from the outside world and maintained sheer parochial arrogance. As a result, they missed the development opportunities brought by the industrial revolution, so that the economic and technological levels of China lagged far behind the pace of development in the world. From the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, this was another 100 years, in which time the Western aggressors drove their military ships to China and bombarded the gates of the Qing Empire, and our country degenerated into a semi-colonial and semi-feudal country. The aggression of foreign powers, the corruption of the Qing government, and the continuous war deprived our country of stability and pushed our people to the edge of starvation. Under these circumstances, we had neither conditions for national construction nor those to keep abreast of the times. From the 1960s to the 1970s, a technological revolution and an industrial revolution sprang up in the world. A number of East Asian countries and regions seized this opportunity and made a great development. However, at the same time, our country lost itself in the Cultural Revolution and missed an opportunity once again. After the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee, we seized the opportunity, and our country and nation caught up in great strides such that we accomplished today’s achievements.

  • Speech at the Second Plenary Meeting of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Commission (November 12, 2013).


During the 200 years from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, the West embarked on a journey of industrialization, and the world experienced great changes while China took a turn from the imperial age toward modern civilization.

When opportunities knocked at the door of China, this age-old nation was out of touch with reality and thus missed them. A few details in the first 100 years mentioned by Xi Jinping reflected the seclusion and extreme arrogance of the rulers of Qing. At that time, the UK was the largest exporter and largest importer to China. The value of the UK’s export to China accounted for approximately 90% of the total value of that of the Western countries’, while that of the UK’s import from China was over 70%. However, the Qing government was blind to this and even referred to the British and Dutch as “ang mo”. The diplomatic corps from the UK brought much of value to China: scientific instruments such as the orrey, globe, Herschel telescope, Parke lens, and barometer as well as industrial machinery including the steam engine, cotton-spinning machine, carding machine, and loom. They even brought along a hot-air balloon pilot. The emperor was given the opportunity to take a tour of the sky. Hence, he would be the first person in the eastern hemisphere to fly up into the sky. However, the emperor was not interested in the so-called new-fangled machines of the industrial revolution but in the exquisitely wrought toys such as an “automaton” and or “robot dog”, wasting an opportunity to gain access to the industrial revolution.

From the mid-nineteenth century, in response to the calls of people with lofty ideals, initiatives to save the nation by engaging in industry spread through China. The famous industrialist Zhang Jian held the following view: “Saving the nation is a pressing matter of the moment… If we compare the country to a tree, then education is the flower, the navy and army are the fruit, and industry is the roots.” In those days, China’s national industry did make great progress. The No. 1 mill and No. 2 mill of Zhang Jian’s Nantong Dasheng Cotton Mill earned 1,600 million taels of silver from 1914 to 1921. However, continuous wars and turbulence held back China’s independence and reunification. The industrial progress was merely a fleeting development. We had no opportunity to catch up with the times.

At the Second Plenary Meeting of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Commission, Xi Jinping presented a clear panorama of the 200-year development of China by tracing this history. From the perspective of the world and based on the characteristics of the times and history, he conducted an in-depth analysis of China’s successes and failures in its modernization and revealed “the extreme importance of seizing opportunities and catching up with the times.”

In contrast with the lost 200 years, since new China was established, especially in over 30 years of reform and opening up, China has spared no effort to catch up with the world. Today we have lifted reform to a higher level, and the question of “where will China go?” once again attracts worldwide attention. It is in this context that Xi Jinping discussed the modern history of China to testify that “Reform and opening up is the critical strategy that decides the fate of China in contemporary times and is an important weapon for the CPC and the Chinese people to catch up with the times in great strides.” Thus, he built the foundation for the consensus on reform.

The Sigh of Zhang Zhidong

Historical experience tells us that the success of reform largely depends on whether people of all walks of life in the country reach a consensus. Shang Yang’s reforms in the Warring States Period, Wang Anshi’s reforms in the Song Dynasty, and Zhang Juzheng’s in the Ming Dynasty all achieved certain effects under the historical conditions of those times. However, the autocratic monarchy, constantly intensified social contradictions, intricate interest relationships, and political strife within the governments overwhelmingly hindered reforms and even brought ruin and shame upon the reformers because the interests of some vested interests were undermined by the reforms. Zhang Zhidong, one of the representatives of the Westernization Movement in the Qing Dynasty, was a man with the mindset of reform. In the late years of the Qing, it became difficult to end the social contradictions, and overall reform became imperative. Under these circumstances, opinions varied, and no unanimous conclusion could be drawn. “The traditionalists give up eating for fear of choking, while the innovators lose their sheep as they wander astray. The traditionalists, who have no ability to subdue the enemy and manage contingency, are tactless, while the innovators, who doubt fame and edification, do not grasp the essence,” lamented Zhang Zhidong.

  • Speech at the Second Plenary Meeting of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Commission (November 12, 2013).


“Reform” is a key word in the long history of China. Some dynasties became rich and strong through reforms, while some declined and fell because reforms were impeded. “The changes of natural phenomena need not be feared, the rules established by ancestors need not be necessarily followed, and people’s discussions need not be minded.” The ancients had such great courage. “The later generations who lament Qin but refuse to learn a lesson from it make later generations lament them.” The ancients thus also lamented.

Shang Yang’s reforms in the Warring States Period, Wang Anshi’s reforms in the Song Dynasty, and Zhang Juzheng’s in the Ming Dynasty were all famous reform initiatives in Chinese history. Shang Yang started reform by building credibility. He gradually abolished the “nine squares” system of land ownership in China’s slave society, with one large square divided into nine small ones and the eight outer ones being allocated to serfs who had to cultivate the central one for the serf owner, initiated the system of prefectures and counties, which was a system of local administration and rewarded the people who took part in farming, weaving, and fighting. His reforms supported the prosperity of the state of Qin’s economy and strengthened its army, making it the most powerful state in the late Warring States Period and laying the foundations for it to unify China. However, after the death of Duke Xiao of Qin, who supported Shang Yang, the aristocracy of Qin no longer hid their strong opposition to reforms because the reforms impaired their vested interests. At last, Shang Yang was sentenced to death by the ruler of Qin and was torn asunder by five carts. His tragedy manifested the tragically heroic fate of reformers and the great difficulty of reforms.

In the late Qing Dynasty, it was imperative for our nation to adopt reform in the face of aggression by the West and the danger of being subjugated. As the former Viceroy of Huguang, Zhang Zhidong was an innovator who advocated for reform. His Hanyang Steel Plant in Hubei Province was the largest steel plants in Asia at the time, and his Hubei Firearm Factory produced an average of nearly 10,000 guns per year during the ends of 1895 and 1909. Throughout modern and contemporary history, the Hanyang 88 Rifle was the rifle type used and manufactured most widely and serving the longest. It armed countless Chinese armed forces after 1896, which greatly promoted the modernization of the Chinese armies. Zhang Zhidong strongly advocated reform, thus he felt deep sorrow at the resistance to reform. Hence, the lament, “The traditionalists are tactless…while the innovators do not grasp the essence….”

At the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Commission that deployed comprehensively continuing reform, Xi Jinping highlighted the importance of reaching a consensus on reform by discussing the difficulties encountered by ancient reformers. He expected to bolster and support the reformers, preventing them from feeling helpless under the converging attack from radical actors and conservatives. Reaching consensus on reform is what he firmly advocates. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the Party Central Committee headed by Comrade Xi has spared no effort to push forward with reform, with the resolution of taking up our hammers and breaking the barriers, the bravery to advance through the rapids, the courage to make prompt and resolute decisions, and the wisdom to plan jointly to take into consideration every aspect of a matter. This magnificent feat raises hundreds of millions of Chinese people’s expectation and confidence, making reform the most powerful driving force for China’s modernization and the most distinctive spiritual totem of this era.

Scramble for the “Shackles of Poverty”

I read from some material that in the beginning of 2012, the government of a county that was classified as “a national-level poverty-stricken county” posted “excellent news” on its official website—“Warm Congratulations on Our County Being Listed Among the Poorest Parts of China.” Another case is the competition between two counties for the title of “the national-level poverty-stricken county”. In tears, the mayor of the losing county said, “What made us lose the competition for the title of the poverty-stricken county was our extreme poverty.” What is more, there is a county that had been listed in the Top 100 Counties in China since 2005, but retained its title as the key county in the national development-oriented poverty reduction programs until 2011, when this misconduct was exposed by the media. It is said that there were 17 national-level poverty-stricken counties on the 11th evaluation lists of the top 100 counties of China in basic economic competitiveness, the top 100 counties in Central China and the top 100 counties in West China. The relevant authorities should look into this phenomenon, cancel the titles of those that are not qualified, and give them to those who are in real need.

  • Talks During the Inspection on the Work of Development-oriented Poverty Reduction in Fuping County, Hebei Province (December 29 to 30, 2012).


At present, China’s poverty alleviation movement is marching into the home stretch. We must ensure that all poverty-stricken people in rural areas get out of poverty by 2020. The task is difficult, and we are pressed for time. The cases of scrambling for the “shackles of poverty” told by Xi Jinping reveal the deep-seated issue in the process of poverty alleviation.

In the beginning of 2012, a large outdoor display screen in a county of Hunan Province displayed: “Warm congratulations on our county being listed among the poorest parts of China and becoming the main battlefield of the national poverty alleviation movement in the new era.” This message of congratulations was inscribed “County Party Committee and County Government”. The photo of this screen attracted widespread public concern immediately after it was exposed on the Internet. According to an article titled “xxx County Successfully Became Listed Among the Poorest Parts of China,” on the official website of the county, the county government set a primary goal of its “Two Keys and Three Mains” working plan to be classified as a key area of the national poverty alleviation movement to take advantage of the policy of national development-oriented poverty reduction in the 12th Five-Year”. “Undergoing innumerable hardships and difficulties and making every possible effort for two years,” the county was ultimately included in the poorest parts of China. In this regard, many people noted sharply on the Internet that what this “poverty-stricken county” was actually congratulated on was their winning of the anti-poverty funds. They “flaunted poverty” for the purpose of garnering resources provided by the central government for poverty-stricken counties.

When Xi Jingping was heading the administration of Ningde, Fujian Province, he often emphasized that poverty alleviation requires a change of attitude. “The weak hatching bird can be the first to fly, and the poorest can be the first to become rich. However, to be the first to ‘take flight’ or to ‘become rich’, we must have such a concept in mind,” he said repeatedly. To further poverty alleviation in Ningde, he emphasized many times that we should mentally wear away at the “poverty mentality”, and he noted “It is entirely possible for impoverished regions to rely on their own efforts, policies, strengths, and advantages in certain areas to be the first to ‘take flight’ and make up for the disadvantages brought about by poverty.”

The “shackles of poverty” not only mean large amounts of transfer payments from exchequer for the counties but it can also bring about policy support and special treatment. Essentially, the scrambling for the “shackles of poverty” is a consequence of the lack of morale to fight against poverty and to reflect the anaclisis of waiting for government aid, relying on financial grants, and requiring poverty allowances. Xi Jinping recited the cases of scrambling for the “shackles of poverty” to exhort us to change our attitude toward poverty, to equip ourselves with the wisdom of poverty alleviation, and not to lose our morale to fight against poverty or breed anaclisis. For the areas that scramble for the “shackles of poverty”, to alleviate poverty is just like carrying faggots to put out a fire, which will indeed aggravate poverty.

We must eradicate the “poverty” that exists in our minds before we can eradicate it in our material lives. Xi has repeatedly stressed, “We should make a great attempt to bring into full play the pioneering spirit of the grassroots officials and masses and energize them to get out of poverty by hard work.” To stimulate the initiative, enthusiasm, and creativity of the officials and the masses in impoverished areas, we should give them support so that they can convert external resources into steady streams of energy for poverty alleviation. Simply put, we cannot wait for all-around moderate prosperity but build it up with our hands.

“Are You Chinese?”

When I visited Sweden in 1979, I met a Malaysian Chinese in a square. He asked me in poor Chinese, “Are you Chinese?” Getting my answer “Yes”, he turned excitedly and said, “I am so glad to see a Chinese here. Chinese are rarely seen in Sweden.” Now, we can see Chinese people all over the world. In the Belgian capital Brussels, when I looked out from the seat of the city government, I found half of the people in a public square were Chinese. It would be totally out of the question for our nation to achieve present-day development if our Party did not carry out the historic decision of reform and opening up under the guidance of Comrade Deng Xiaoping.

  • Speech During the Inspection in Guangdong Province (December 7–11, 2012).


The situation of the Chinese overseas provides us with a global perspective for understanding China. Before reform and opening up, the Chinese rarely went abroad. Hence, the question “Are you Chinese?” Before the reform and opening up, there had even been influxes of illegal immigration in Guangdong Province, China. Some Chinese tried every means to go abroad. As the dividing line between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Chung Ying Street in Shenzhen looked entirely different on both sides. In Hong Kong, the streets were lined with small-size villas, while in Shenzhen, the old and shabby huts spread across the village in confusion. These details reflected China’s backwardness in economy and social development in those days.

“Are you Chinese?” In the year 1979, the world knew so little about China, and China was seriously isolated from the world. However, it was in that year that China embarked on the journey of reform and opening up. This is the reason why some overseas scholars believe that “The 21th century of human society began from China’s year of 1978.” More than 30 years later, the originally isolated China has already merged into the world. China’s outbound tourism has been increasing rapidly. In 2015, the number of our outbound tourists reached 120 million, and overseas consumption amounted to 1.5 trillion yuan. By 2016, China was ranked as the world’s top international tourism spender for four consecutive years, with an average annual contribution to global tourism revenues of over 13%. It was just at the time when China was going global in big strides and becoming the world’s second largest economy when Xi was in Brussels and noted that “half of the people on a public square were Chinese.”

We have more testaments to the influence of China’s “go global” strategy. In Paris, France, many attendants of hotels, restaurants, and museums and even taxi drivers all receive a brochure. This was a manual especially issued by the Business Bureau and Regional Tourism Bureau of Paris to teach the French to speak simple Chinese and help them understand the preferences of Chinese tourists. In Seoul, Korea, Chinese advertisements can be seen everywhere in the airport, and many shop assistants can speak simple Chinese to attract Chinese tourists.

In Xi Jinping’s first visit outside Beijing as the top CPC leader, he went to Guangdong—the cradle of China’s reform and opening up, and he gave an account of what he saw and heard abroad. By comparing the present with the past, he opened a window before all people, with a clear view of the impact of China’s development on the world. At the early stage of the reform and opening up, the Chinese people were rarely seen abroad. Nevertheless, more than 30 years later, half of the people on a square in Brussels are from China. Such details reflecting China’s development can stir public feeling more easily than grand narratives.

Xi Jinping interpreted the impact of China’s development on the world by citing his own experience. In doing so, he demonstrated that it was our insistence, Chinese characteristics and the efforts we made in pushing reform forward and opening up that made China the world’s second largest economy. The “Chinese miracles” and “Chinese stories” have drawn the world’s attention, and many have been touched and shocked by China. Xi has often said, “Reform and opening up was a great awakening in our Party’s history. And it is this great awakening that has nurtured this new era and evolved this great creation of a new era from theory into practice.” Standing at a new starting point, China will continue to follow this correct path, and it will take new measures and reach new levels.

No Unity, No Strength

A leading group is like a boat, and carrying out the work is like rowing the boat. As long as the group members work together with one heart and aim at a common goal, the boat will drive rapidly toward the goal. If the group members are divided over the goal and row the boat in different directions, the boat can only spin in situ, without any advance. What is more, if there is internal strife in the group, the boat will possibly capsize. To be together in the same boat is predestined good fortune. To work together is also predestined good fortune. Thus, the leading group member should cherish the chance to work together and achieve success hand in hand.

  • No Unity, No Strength (January 19, 2007), from Fresh Ideas of Zhejiang.


The Art of War is a military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu, a military strategist of the Spring and Autumn Period. Admired by later generations of strategists, it was honored as “the canon of war” and hailed as the lead text in the Seven Military Classics. As a world-famous military scripture, it has been translated and published into English, French, German, Japanese, and other languages.

There is a story about enemies sailing in the same boat in the chapter “The Nine Situations” in The Art of War: “The men of Wu and the men of Yue are enemies; yet, if they are crossing a river in the same boat and are caught by a storm, they will come to each other’s assistance just as the left hand helps the right.” Someone asked Sun Wu how to command troops. He answered that the troops should be deployed like a snake that strikes back during the hunt. The snake-shape battle formation could fight as a whole. When the enemy strikes at its head, it will attack back by its tail; when its tail, by its head; and when its middle, by head and tail both. The civilians of Wu and the civilians of Yue, who are enemies, could pull together in times of trouble, but doubly so the soldiers.

In truth, if we show mutual concern in the same boat and row the boat together, then the boat will cleave through the waves; however, if we row it in different directions and counteract each other, the boat will only spin in situ, without any advance. “A leading group is like a boat, and carrying out the work is like rowing the boat.” Xi Jinping has often stressed that, as a leader, “you should be skilled at pooling the wisdom of the Party committee, other branches of county leadership, and officials at all levels. You should assume overall leadership but not take on every detail, divide duties but not undermine concerted efforts, and delegate duties but not totally let go.” At the beginning of 2016, Xi Jinping made important instructions on the study of the article Working Methods of Party Committees. He demanded the leading groups of the Party committees (Party leadership groups) at all levels to review this classic work. The Organization Department of the Central Committee of the CPC issued a notice about including this article in the learning materials of the “Two Studies and One Actions” program. In the 67th year after the publication of the classic work, it once again attracted people’s attention. This was because of its author, our founding leader Mao Zedong, but above all because of the methodology it reveals. This article begins, “The secretary of a Party committee must be good at being a ‘squad leader’” and “good at handling his relationships with committee members.” Then, it expounds, “If the ‘squad members’ do not march in step, they can never expect to lead tens of millions of people in fighting and construction,” and “members of a Party committee should keep each other informed of and exchange views on the matters that have come to their attention.” The classic text enunciates a single theme in less than 3000 Chinese characters—leading group members must unite. This is what Xi Jinping is driving at.

Xi Jinping illustrates abstract truth with concrete objects. He uses rowing a boat together as a metaphor for the solidarity and cooperation within the leading groups, which reveals that an important method for the leading groups of Party committees to carry out the work is to attain strength through unity. That is to say, they should work together with one heart.

A leading group’s attainment of creativity, cohesiveness, and professional capabilities is determined by its unity. “The secretary of a Party committee should assume overall responsibility but not undertake everything. He is like a pianist; he should be able to play with both hands at once” “A good leading group must be good at cooperation.” “Unity is an important matter in building the leading group. The pursuit of unity is a manifestation of the political mind and holistic view.” Xi Jinping has repeatedly highlighted that unity can help to avert discord and incompatibility in the leading groups of the Party committees and prevent them from the absence of the cooperative spirit, to build them into “core teams” in the Party organizations. These “core teams” should bring their leadership into full play through clear-cut division of responsibilities as well as cooperation among the team members. Only in this way can our Party always maintain the position of strong leadership in the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Build up “Two Mountains”

We pursue harmony between man and nature, and between economy and society. In other words, we want “two mountains”—the green mountain and the gold treasure mountain. We can see the relationship of dialectical unity between these “two contradictory mountains.” In fact, our understanding of the relationship between them has gone through three stages. At the first stage, we exchanged the green mountain for the gold treasure mountain, during which time we sought resources blindly without considering or while rarely considering the bearing capacity of the environment. At the second stage, we were importunate for both the mountains. At the same time, the contradictions among economic development, the lack of resources, and environmental degradation began to stand out, and we became aware that the environment is the foundation for our survival and development, for there is the mountain of ecological environment, there is the mountain of wealth. Then, at the third stage, we realized that the green mountain creates gold treasure unceasingly; that is to say, the green mountain is the gold treasure mountain itself. The green trees on it are money-spinners, and ecological advantages are economic advantages. The two mountains are harmonious, unified, and inseparable. The third stage is a higher realm, conforming to the requirements of the Scientific Outlook on Development and the concept of developing a circular economy and building a resource-saving and environment-friendly society. These three stages represent the process of transformation of an economic growth pattern, the process of improvement of conception development, and the process of harmonization of the relationship between man and nature.

  • On the “Two Mountains” Concerning the Ecological Environment (March 23, 2006), from Fresh Ideas of Zhejiang.


The “green mountain” and “gold treasure mountain” are two images that most vividly describe the relationship between economic development and environmental protection. The development concept implied by these “two mountains” not only directs the development of Zhejiang Province but also serves as a guide for national development.

In August 2005, as Party Secretary of Zhejiang Province, when he inspected Yu Village in Anji County, Zhejiang, Xi Jinping put forward the scientific judgment that “The green mountain is as valuable as the gold treasure mountain.” The bamboo sea is the symbol of this village. It was where Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was shot, a film directed by famous director Ang Lee. This film made Anji famous overnight, attracting a continuous stream of tourists to visit the grand bamboo sea. When Xi Jinping visited Yu Village, Anji, he highly praised the practice of the village of closing the mining area and taking the road of green development. The scene of Xi attending a symposium in the crude meeting room of the villager committee is still fresh in the memory of Pan Wenge, head of the villager committee of Yu Village. At the symposium, Xi exhorted the officials and villagers, “Do not cling to the development pattern of the past,” and first proposed the thought “The green mountain is as valuable as the gold treasure mountain.” Now, the annual tourism income of Yu Village has reached 15 million yuan, five times more than 10 years ago, when the mining industry was the major source of income for the village. Yu Village’s green development is the most vivid evidence to support the important concept “The green mountain is as valuable as the gold treasure mountain.”

This concept led the development of Zhejiang over the past dozen years. With regard to the strategy of “making full use of eight advantages and implementing eight major measures” that Xi Jinping put forward when heading the administration of Zhejiang, an important idea was to give full play to Zhejiang’s ecological advantages and build a “Green Zhejiang”. The green mountain not only is the “golden business card” of Zhejiang but it is also a “money-spinner” and a “treasure bowl” on its road of sustainable development. After assuming the post of General Secretary, Xi Jinping aired the view that “The green mountain is as valuable as the gold treasure mountain” on multiple occasions, making green development a consensus of the whole society.

The metaphor of the “green mountain” and the “gold treasure mountain” vividly illuminate the relationship between economic development and environmental protection. In Xi Jinping’s view, the “green mountain” and the “gold treasure mountain” do not contradict one another; they are part of a harmonious and unified entity. Therefore, we cannot place importance on one of them while neglecting the other. To reach unification of the two mountains, we should avoid the wrong way of the first stage and get out of the cruel dilemma of the second stage. These three stages are the propositions that every government should thoroughly consider in the course of its development.

Donkey and Horse Theory

The primary fruit of modern democratic politics is the check-and-balance system on power. There is a famous “donkey and horse theory” with respect to this issue: A horse ran faster than a donkey. Upon comparison, people found that the horse’s hoofs were better than the donkey’s, so they replaced the hoofs of the donkey with the horse’s. However, the donkey ran more slowly as a result. Then, the people made a second comparison. This time they found the horse had better legs. So they replaced the donkey legs with horse legs. To their surprise, the donkey could no longer run. Next, in the same way, they replaced the donkey’s body, internal organs, etc., but the donkey did not run faster until the people replaced the whole donkey. This “donkey and horse theory” tells us that “democratic election” is simply a “horse hoof”, and the practice of promoting democratic political construction only by installing a “horse hoof” is counterproductive. “Democratic management, democratic decision-making and democratic supervision” are as important and critical as “democratic elections”. The democratic “dabbler” will make democracy a flash in the pan and even mess up the original system.

  • Talks During the Investigation in Jinhua (June 17, 2005), from Take the Lead, Take pragmatic Actions—Thoughts on and Practices in Promoting the New Development of Zhejiang Province.


A donkey installed with a horse’s hoofs is still a donkey, but it is a donkey that runs more slowly. If its legs, body, internal organs, and even the whole donkey are replaced with those of a horse, it would run faster, but totally become a horse. With an ingenious metaphor, vivid description, and interesting plot, this “Donkey and Horse Theory” expounded by Xi Jinping elaborates on these theoretical problems clearly and thoroughly in a humorous way. He assumes a very easy manner to tackle complicated problems and explain profound theories in simple language.

In the talk, he also took the “Houchen Experience” as an example. The “Houchen Experience” originated from Wuyi County and was promoted in Jinhua. Houchen Village is in the suburb of Wuyi County. At the end of the twentieth century, with the advance of industrialization and urbanization, the collective funds of the village increased sharply in a short time, triggering discipline violations by some village officials, severe conflicts between the officials and the masses, constant petitions by the masses, and some other problems. In June 2004, the village found China’s first Village Management Supervision Committee under the “rustic-style” innovation of grassroots democracy. It was set to supervise the implementation of a village management system and the village management itself as a third-party supervisory body independent of the village Party branch and villager committee. This was a prologue to China’s exploration in the democratic management of villager affairs. From then on, Houchen Village set off on the innovative journey of improving the management system, promoting the construction of democracy, guaranteeing social harmony and achieving village prosperity through supervision, and finally finishing the transition from chaos to harmony.

After that, the Organic Law of the Villager Committees of the People’s Republic of China stipulated the founding of the Village Management Supervision Committee, which defined this village management tactic as a national policy. This is a successful example of strengthening the construction of democracy at the grassroots level in rural areas.

Introducing the “donkey and horse theory” when he investigated Jinhua as Party Secretary of Zhejiang Province in 2005, Xi Jinping intended to elucidate that the construction of village-level democracy should cover “democratic elections, democratic decision-making, democratic management and democratic supervision.” “The officials must have a comprehensive understanding of these four aspects,” he said. Xi Jinping believes that democracy is not simply equal to democratic elections. If we promote democratic construction only by installing a “horse’s hoof”, it will surely ruin our original system because it is democratic “dabbling”. Real democracy refers to a complete system that is strong in all four aspects. “The orange grown South of the Huaihe River is an orange, while that grown North of the river is a trifoliate orange.” This is another old saying often quoted by Xi Jinping. The essential meaning he wishes to convey is that simply copying the political system of other countries will not work because the system might not become acclimatized, and this practice may even ruin the future of the country.

The Emperor Should Guard the Gate of the Country

What does official mean? To put it bluntly, the organization designates us as officials to send us to stand guard over our territory. That is to say, we are duty bound to defend our country. Liu Bang said in Song of the Big Wind that “A big wind rises, clouds are driven away. Home am I now the world is under my sway. Where are brave men to guard the four frontiers today?” It means that there is a group of people responsible for guarding the territory, so they should stand sentry. In the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Yongle moved the capital to Beijing. The fair-sounding reason he declared was “The emperor should guard the gate of the country.” In other words, it is an unalterable principle that the emperor should not simply pursue a life of comfort but should guard the gate of the country. In the Qing Dynasty, the official guarding the embankment of the Qiantang River was set as Grade four, enjoying post-related benefits that were as good as those enjoyed by the governor. However, the official might take strict precautions against embankment breach. If he failed in this, he would drown himself in the river before the emperor called him to account for the accident. The imperial officials were this conscientious, and we present-day Party officials should have a stronger sense of responsibility and should understand responsibility and have the courage to bear responsibilities. We should safeguard the regions where we govern, promote their economic development and support the prosperity of the people there. This is the true meaning of being duty bound to defend our country.

  • Officials Are Duty Bound to Defend Our Country (February 16, 2005), excerpted from Fresh Ideas in Zhejiang.


Liu Bang was the Founding Emperor of the Han Dynasty and an outstanding statesman in ancient China. He was originally Village Constable of Sishui, Peixian County, from where he fled into Mangdang Mountain where he released captives without authorization. After Chen Sheng and Wu Guang started an uprising, Liu Bang also raised an army to fight the Qin government. In 206 BC, Liu Bang’s troops marched into Bashang, and then Ziying, the emperor of Qin, surrendered to Liu Bang, and the Qin Dynasty collapsed. In the following Chu-Han Contention, Liu Bang won the final victory and thereafter unified China by establishing the Han Dynasty.

In 196 BC, on his triumphant return after crushing the rebellion raised by Ying Bu, King of Huainan, Liu Bang went back to his hometown in Peixian County and had a banquet with his old friends, elders and betters, and juniors. During the banquet, he improvised the Song of the Big Wind to express his desire to attract talented others and to make the best possible use of their talents.

Zhu Di, Emperor Yongle of Ming, was the fourth son of Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty, and the third Emperor of Ming. Zhu Di was named Prince of Yan on the founding of Ming. After settling in his fief Peiping (present-day Beijing), he was ordered many times to participate in military campaigns in the north and commanded the troops to march northward twice. Later, Emperor Jianwen ascended the throne and began taking back territory and power from imperial princes. In response to Emperor Jianwen’s crackdown, Zhu Di launched the Jingnan Campaign and seized the reins of power in the capital Nanjing in 1402. In 1421, he reestablished Peiping as the new capital of Ming, a critical reason why those who remained from the Yuan Dynasty who had fled north threatened the security of Ming. Therefore, Zhu Di took the position that “the emperor guards the gate of the country” in consideration of national defense. This administrative measure meant the country’s manpower and material resources were largely concentrated at the northern border.

In the Qing Dynasty, the officer in charge of the safety of the river embankment protected the life and family possessions of the people residing along the river. This was a highly responsible position. According to the Chronicles of Haichang and Chronicles of Haining City, “During Wuyue and the late Qing Dynasty, there have been hundreds of officials undertaking the position in charge of safety of the river embankment in Haining, Zhejiang Province. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong, once Qiantang River Tide breached the embankment of the city. Officer Zhao, who then was responsible for the construction and protection of the embankment, lamented on the breach, ‘As the official responsible for protection of the embankment, I was discredited by His Majesty and among the people because I am incapable of performing my duties, that I can do nothing but apologize for the offence with my life.’ Hardly had his voice faded away, he threw himself into the rushing river. The technicians, yamen runners, and civilians on the spot were all deeply moved.” Officer Zhao’s deed was a manifestation of the spirit of dedication until the end of life.

Liu Bang’s Song of the Big Wind, Emperor Yongle’s position that “the emperor guards the gate of the country” and Officer Zhao’s spirit of dedication are all about responsibility and undertaking and emphasize that we should “understand responsibility and have the courage to bear responsibilities.” As Xi Jinping has said, “If imperial officials had such a strong sense of responsibility, how can we proletarian officials evade responsibility or refuse to take responsibility?”

“Responsibility” is a word that is frequently used in Xi’s speeches. In the speech at the press conference he attended for the first time as General Secretary of the CPC, he declared with an emphatic determination that “Our responsibility is weightier than mountains, our task arduous, and the road ahead long.” In an exclusive interview with Russian Television, he made clear his philosophy of governance before the rest of the world: “I will govern by serving the people and fulfilling all my responsibilities.” As it were, “responsibility” is the hallmark of his distinctive style of governing. Moreover, every leading official should reflect on his emphasis on “responsibility”.

Cannikin Law

We must realize that we are unable to achieve the all-around moderate prosperity of our province if we skip the moderate prosperity of the underdeveloped areas, and we are unable to realize the all-around modernization of our province if the underdeveloped areas are not modernized. It is like the Cannikin Law in economics—the capacity of a barrel is not determined by the longest stave but the shortest one. That is to say, whether our province can achieve the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and basically achieve modernization in advance is largely determined by our ability to narrow the gap between the regions of the province. This requires both the further development of developed regions and a great leap forward of development for underdeveloped regions.

  • To Lengthen the Underdeveloped “Shorter Staves” (December 10, 2004), from Fresh Ideas of Zhejiang.


According to the Cannikin Law, the capacity of a barrel is not determined by the longest stave but the shortest one. To fill a barrel with water, we must ensure that all of the staves are equally long and undamaged. If any stave is shorter than the others or has a hole in it, then the barrel will be unable to be filled. The Cannikin Law is often used to elucidate the development of a country or a region. The parts of a country or region are always prone to develop in an unbalanced manner. However, the elements that determine the overall development level of the country or region include not only the development level of its developed parts but also that of the underdeveloped parts. Therefore, as we advance our development, we should not only focus on our advantages and strong points but also pay more attention to our disadvantages and deficiencies. We must make up for the deficiencies to achieve coordinated development in a comprehensive and sustainable manner.

In 2002, to promote coordinated development across the province, Zhejiang launched the “Mountain Area—Coastal Area Coordination Program”, which promoted project cooperation between the developed coastal areas and underdeveloped parts in the mountain areas of Southwest Zhejiang and on the islands in such fields as industrial development, new rural construction, labor training employment, and social undertaking development, so that the regions of the province could realize coordinated development and achieve modernization shoulder to shoulder. The aim of this program was to promote development toward the target through comprehensive cooperation between developed and underdeveloped regions and to lengthen the underdeveloped “shorter staves”, so that all people of the province could share the fruits of economic and social development.

When heading the administration of Zhejiang, Xi Jinping integrated lengthening “shorter staves” and coordinated development into the practice of reform and development. One point in the strategy of “making full use of eight advantages and implementing eight major measures” that he proposed is that “To give full play to Zhejiang’s advantages in coordinated rural-urban development and accelerate urban-rural integration.” Since he assumed the post of General Secretary of the Party, Xi expanded his horizons and began to think about China’s blueprint of coordinated development. In December 2012, having just taken office, he braved the snow and severe cold wind and traveled through the narrow and bumpy roads to get to the depth of Taihang Mountain, one of the poorest parts of China, with an annual per capital income of just 900 yuan. He said to the other officials, “It is absolutely worthwhile taking three and a half hours to get here from Beijing if we could visit those who are really poor today!” This showed his concern about narrowing the gaps between urban and rural areas and between the regions.

In an exclusive interview with Russian Television in February 2014, Xi made a figurative metaphor for coordinated development—“like playing the piano with all ten fingers.” “Therefore, as a Chinese leader, I must take all factors into consideration based on a correct understanding of China’s conditions, maintain an overall balance, and concentrate on priorities to promote the overall situation. I alternate my attention between major and minor issues,” he said. Thus, the core thought is the promotion of coordinated development.

Utilizing the Cannikin Law, Xi Jinping gave a profound interpretation of the importance of coordinated development, which suggested that all-around moderate prosperity calls for the moderate prosperity of both developed and underdeveloped areas and calls for both material and spiritual civilization.

The thinking of coordinated and balanced development always dominates Xi’s governance. “Coordinated development” is also a key element of the new development philosophy brought forward in the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Commission. Uncoordinated development has been a long-standing problem in our country, especially reflected by relationships between regions, between urban and rural areas, between economy and society, between material and spiritual civilization, and between economic construction and national defense construction. For a country under the condition of backward economic development, the main task in a certain period may be to run faster. However, after running a certain distance, it should shift attention to relationship adjustment, specifically improving the overall efficiency of development. In this context, Xi Jinping emphasized, “Coordinated development is the key for China to coordinate all the activities of the nation in the 13th Five Year, like playing a chess game.” This demands that we make a breakthrough in optimizing the structure and making up for deficiencies, strive to improve the coordination and balance of our development, and promote China’s sustainable development in both economy and society.

Sweet Potato Theory

Someone proposed a “sweet potato theory”, which figuratively described the phenomenon of “Jumping out of Zhejiang to develop Zhejiang.” The vines of the sweet potato may stretch in all directions to absorb more sunlight, dew, and nutrients, so that the roots, from where they emerge, can become tougher and stronger. Similarly, our Zhejiang enterprises are now just branching out. They are integrating with Shanghai, taking part in our country’s Western Development Drive and programs of revitalization of old industrial bases, such as Northeast China’s old industrial bases, participating in international competition, and building up grain production bases, energy and raw material bases, and production and processing bases in other provinces and countries. This does not mean that our capital is flowing out and our enterprises are emigrating to other provinces or countries but that they are fulfilling the demand for resource allocation in wider regions and the demand for further development in a larger space, which is precisely in line with the strategy “To jump out of Zhejiang to develop Zhejiang and to develop Zhejiang from all over our country.” We must have a correct understanding of this strategy, actively promote its implementation, and remain optimistic about the success to come.

  • Strive for Further Development in a Larger Space (August 10, 2004), from Fresh Ideas of Zhejiang.


The vines of the sweet potato stretch in all directions to make the roots tougher and stronger. If the vines do not stretch, the roots have no access to nutrition; if the roots are not trained, the vines will lose their direction. The vines represent the methodology of furthering the opening up, while the roots represent the teleology of standing firm. It can be said that the “sweet potato theory” reveals the dialectical relationship between “standing firm” and “furthering the opening up.”

Xi put forward the strategy “To jump out of Zhejiang to develop Zhejiang” when he was heading the administration of Zhejiang Province. “To jump out of Zhejiang” is like the vines of sweet potato stretching in all directions, the aim of which is to absorb more sunlight, dew, and nutrients. The expanding enterprises can help realize industrial gradient transfer and promote development transformation and upgrading, and its ultimate goal is “to develop Zhejiang.” In Xi’s view, “to jump out of Zhejiang” does not mean “flowing out” but represents “external expansion”. He gave an example of the countless people from Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province who did business all over the country and even the world, and made contributions to the taxation there; however, they brought back up to 30 billion yuan to their hometown during the Chinese Spring Festival. This is powerful evidence to prove that the vines stretch in all directions to make the roots tougher and stronger.

After assuming the post of General Secretary of the Party, Xi integrated the “sweet potato theory” into his reflection on our country’s future, based on which he designed the strategic blueprint “to jump out of China to develop China and to develop China from all over the world.” In September 2013, he first put forward the initiative of jointly building a “Silk Road Economic Belt” in his speech at Nazarbayev University, Kazakhsta; in October, he launched the initiative of jointly building “the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road” in his speech to Indonesia’s parliament. The strategic conception of the Belt and Road lays the foundation for Asia’s boom and China’s development.

With the relationship between vines and roots, Xi Jinping vividly interpreted the philosophy contained in the “sweet potato theory.” Today, when China is comprehensively deepening its reform and is deeply integrating with the world, this theory is highly enlightening for us. Time and again Xi has stressed the fundamental strategy of taking root in China, absorbing the finest achievements of human civilization, and independently achieving national development, which the CPC and the Chinese people have employed and must be upheld and can never be doubted. In fact, it was the holistic application of both international and domestic markets, both international and domestic resources, and both international and domestic rules on the basis of independence and a firm foothold that drove China onto a unique road of development and enabled it to attain achievement that has amazed the world.

Today, as China’s economy steps in the direction of a “new normal” and is faced with strategic opportunities, we should follow the prompting of Xi Jinping, “boasting a vast land of 9.6 million square kilometers, a rich cultural heritage and a strong bond among the 1.3 billion Chinese people, [to] unswervingly improve the open economy,” we should “be resolved to improve the open economy.” By doing so, we will infuse new energy into, invigorate and expand the market for our economic development.

Why Did Argentina Lose Its Title?

In high-level world soccer competition today, focusing only on personal skills and individual footwork is no longer the prevailing trend. Scoring mainly relies on the organic cooperation of the players, and coordination is now an important aspect of tactical awareness on the soccer field. A famous soccer commentator said with regard to Argentina’s painful loss at the 12th World Cup final: “As a star player, Maradona focused only on the individual and not the collective. The individualistic style of the Argentine star ultimately resulted in their loss of this World Cup championship.” Soccer fans often criticize some players for “dribbling too much” because they dislike it when players show off their own skills, which damages organic cooperation and misses opportunities to score. In local economic work, all departments at different levels—upper and lower, related and unrelated—must form an integrated whole. Each department has relative independence but is part of the whole and cannot be separated from the whole or cut off its relationships with other departments.

  • “Economic Chorus” (September 1988), from Up and Out of Poverty.


Maradona was an Argentine star player with excellent skills in footwork and dribbling. He was selected for the Argentine national football team at the early age of 17. He was always the key player, regardless of whether it was on the national team or on club teams. In a match against England, Maradona scored a goal by successively breaking through five defensive players, causing many people to gasp in admiration, “He is the greatest genius in football history.”

Yet a football match is not a one-man show. It calls not only for the superior skills of the players but also for their spirit of teamwork and coordinating consciousness. If a team only pays attention to individual skills, without attaching importance to collective cooperation, it may present a wonderful one-man football show; however, it will be difficult for that team to win the match.

For instance, when the 12th FIFA World Cup was held in Spain, Maradona, who was under 22, wore the No. 10 shirt of the Argentine national team. In Argentina’s 4–1 victory over Hungary, he scored two goals, making a showy display as a superstar. However, he paid no attention to teamwork but only to individual performance and was man-marked by all other teams thereafter and thus no longer scored. In the game against Brazil, he was red-carded for a foul on a Brazilian player who had fouled him before. This kept the Argentine team from reaching the final.

Victory and defeat on the football pitch have an enlightening significance beyond the football game. As a football amateur, Xi Jinping has a deep understanding of this. In the eyes of the British media, he is “a footballer on the diplomatic pitch.” When he visited Ireland in 2012, the photo capturing the moment he played football was carried by all the major media around the world. This photo also attracted the attention of the media when he made a public New Year’s greeting for 2014, as it was visible on his shelf; while visiting Germany in 2014, he visited the Chinese football players who were receiving training in Germany; in 2015, he paid a visit to the Manchester City football club in the UK. By showing his personal interest and building a congenial image, his “football diplomacy” brought China closer to the rest of the world. Xi once revealed that he has a “Chinese dream of football.” Now the reform of football has already been included in the topics for discussion in comprehensively deepening reform.

The story about football told by Xi interprets the relationship between the whole and the parts: the integration of the parts will multiply the strength of the whole; the discord among the parts will cripple the whole. He has repeatedly emphasized the importance of coordination and cooperation in the governance of a country. “A soldier should always think and plan work from the perspective of the commander in chief,” taking the whole situation into account.

Choosing and Appointing Talented People Is Like Selecting and Using a Tool

A review of Chinese history shows that times of peace and prosperity have always accompanied the emergence of a great number of talents and wise minds. Almost without exception, historical personages of great achievements and attainments have attached great importance to talent. There are many much-told tales about this issue, such as “Xiao He pursued Han Xin in the moonlight” and “Liu Bei made three visits to the thatched cottage and invited Zhuge Liang to assist him in running the state.” Let me share one more ancient story about recommending and employing people of virtue and talent, with the hope of arousing our reflection on this issue.

Li Shimin, Emperor Taizong of Tang, a great man known to all of us, has always been praised by later generations for his policy of personnel placement. After becoming emperor, he assigned the official Feng Deyi to recommend talents. However, after a few months had passed, Feng did not recommend any talent. Instead, he reported, “It was not because of me but there is no wizard available now.” Emperor Taizong refuted him at once, “A man of noble character should choose and appoint talented people like he selects and uses a utensil. Every utensil has its strong point, and the man should make good use of this point. If we do not put it this way, do we have to borrow talent from other dynasties? The reason why you have not recommended any talent is that you do not have the capability to identify a talent. How can you say there is no talent? Are you belittling my people?” There is another story bearing witness to Emperor Taizong’s practice of opening all avenues for people of talent by overriding all objections and acquiring and promoting talented people through different channels and by different methods. It tells of how he found Ma Zhou to be a bright person and trusted him with important positions. Born to a poverty-stricken family and springing from obscurity, Ma Zhou lived at the military officer Chang He’s home as a hanger-on. One day, Emperor Taizong asked the officials for advice, and Ma Zhou wrote a memorandum containing more than 20 pieces of advice in the name of Chang He. This memorandum was greatly appreciated by the emperor. When the emperor was informed that it was produced by Ma, he immediately sent someone to invite Ma for a meeting with him. Eager to meet the bright person as soon as possible, he sent another subordinate to make Ma hurry. Emperor Taizong had a talk with Ma Zhou in person, who was only 29 years old at the time, and he deemed him talented, thus he appointed Ma as an official in the Chancellery. After that, Ma was promoted step by step. Helping the emperor handle many complex matters, Ma gradually became a famous official in the reign. It was the practice of acquiring talented people through different channels and by different methods, opening all avenues for people of talent and putting talents in important positions that helped Emperor Taizong achieve a prosperity seldom recorded in China’s imperial society.

  • Talents Play An Immeasurable Role in Economic Development (April 25, 1983), from Know It Deeply, Love It Deeply.


During the reign of Li Shimin, Emperor Taizong of Tang, able men came forward in multitudes. He had the talented officials, Fang Xuanling, who did everything he could to serve his country; Li Jing, who had both civil and military abilities; Wei Zheng, who undertook the duty of criticizing the monarch’s faults in the hope of pushing the monarch to surpass the legendary monarchs Yao and Shun; Wang Gui, who castigated the bad and extolled the good; and Dai Zhou, who had the ability to address various extremely onerous affairs. It was his strategy of making the best possible use of all talents and all things that assisted him in achieving the legendary “heyday of Zhenguan.” This also reflects that his breadth of mind made him acquire the wisdom to choose and appoint talented people, which he compared to selecting and using a utensil, and his refutation against Feng Deyi’s statement that “there is no wizard available today” reflected his thirst for talent and courteousness to the learned.

Another tale of Emperor Taizong shared by Xi Jinping was that Taizong found Ma Zhou to be a bright person and trusted him with important positions. Born in a poverty-stricken family and springing from obscurity, Ma Zhou lived at the military officer Chang He’s home as a hanger-on. He won recognition from the emperor due to a memorandum containing more than 20 pieces of advice that he wrote in the name of Chang He. Ma once made the proposition that “Since ancient times, the rise or fall of a country was not determined by its hoard of money but by the monarch’s awareness of the people’s enjoyment and suffering.” This memorial on politics by Ma Zhou was also spoken of highly by Mao Zedong, who was very fond of reading history, and was rated by him as “the remarkable paper second only to the Countermeasure Against Public Security Issues by Jia Yi.” Emperor Taizong of Tang treasured Ma Zhou to the extent that he once stated, “If I do not see Ma Zhou for a while, I will always miss him.” Cen Wenben, then Chancellor, also said that Ma Zhou’s talents were comparable to those of Zhang Liang, a strategist of the Han Dynasty. In 644 AD, the 18th year of the Zhenguan Reign, Ma Zhou assumed the post of chancellor, and he also served as advisor of the Crown Prince Li Zhi. He instructed Li Zhi in earnest and taught him to manage state affairs, having a great influence on Li’s ruling career. To commend Ma Zhou’s great contribution to the country, Emperor Taizong wrote an inscription in person for him: “A phoenix intending to soar must flap its wings. A right-hand man cannot assist the ruler without loyalty and devotion.” Such high praise was rare in the early Tang Dynasty, when famous officials and paragons of virtue and talent came out in succession.

By telling the story of Emperor Taizong of Tang, Xi Jinping made clear the vital function of the practice of opening all avenues for people of talent and putting talents in important positions in governance and putting forward the thinking that we should choose and appoint talented people like we select and use a utensil, and we should make good use of the strong point of each talent.

Xi Jinping always attaches great importance to talents, and he has repeatedly stressed, “China’s success hinges on the CPC, on our officials, and on talent.” He explained the extreme importance of talent from the perspective of overall strategy, “Without a large contingent of high-quality talent, the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will not be realized smoothly.” He expounded upon the importance of talent-involved work from the perspective of international competition, “The one who has the ability to cultivate and attract more talented people can dominate others in competition.” He also elucidated the realistic path of deepening the reform of the talent mechanism from the perspective of respecting talent: “We should have a good sense of acquiring talented people through different channels and by different methods, treat them as treasures, and let them fully display their abilities.” By expressing his eagerness for the talented, Xi gave officials at all levels a reminder and sent a sincere invitation to all talents.

Buying a Horse Skeleton for 500 Tales of Gold

In addressing issues concerning talent, we should have the attitude and spirit of “buying a horse skeleton for 500 tales of gold.” After ascending the throne, King Zhao of Yan asked Chancellor Guo to recommend talented people in hope of taking his revenge on the state of Qi for the defeat of Yan. In this regard, Chancellor Guo told a story: there was once a king who wanted to buy a thoroughbred horse. However, his envoy bought the skeleton of a dead thoroughbred horse for 500 tales of gold. Afterward, his good reputation spread wide and far. People believed that the king treasured even the skeleton of a dead thoroughbred horse; thus, he would certainly treasure living thoroughbred horses still more. Before long, the king gained three thoroughbred horses that were alive. Chancellor Guo said, “Please consider treasuring me like the skeleton to attract more talents.” Deeming the solution workable, King Zhao of Yan built a palace for Guo and bestowed special privileges on him. He also constructed a high platform piled with gold on the side of Yishui River, and he named it “The Platform for Talent”. It was also called the “Gold Platform”. Admiring King Zhao’s fame, Ju Xin, Su Dai, Zou Yan, and other famous talents, in particular, Yue Yi, successively came to serve the state of Yan. Soon afterward, Yue Yi led troops to attack the state of Qi and defeated Qi utterly at one fell swoop, paying off old scores with Qi.

  • Talents Play An Immeasurable Role in Economic Development (April 25, 1983), from Know It Deeply, Love It Deeply.


“Buying a horse skeleton for 500 tales of gold” is a story that had spread through the ages since the time of ancient China. It is about how King Zhao of Yan accepted the advice of Guo Wei to vigorously attract talent to rejuvenate his state and utterly defeat the state of Qi on the strength of his talents. For thousands of years, “buying a horse skeleton for 500 tales of gold” was looked up to as a philosophy of respecting talent and remaining eager to find the most talented among the Chinese people.

Before King Zhao of Yan ascended the throne, the state of Qi took advantage of the political strife in Yan and invaded Yan. The state was almost ruined, and there was a large number of projects waiting to be completed. It was under such circumstances that King Zhao ascended the throne. In hope of rejuvenating his state through talented people, he showed a humble and generous attitude and consulted Guo Wei about tactics for attracting distinguished men. Thus, Guo Wei told him the story of “buying horse bones for 500 tales of gold.” The story tells of a king who bid a thousand tales of gold for a thoroughbred horse. Three years had passed, and he failed to find such a horse. At this time, a person volunteered for the search and found one in 3 months, but unfortunately the horse was already dead. Beyond all expectations, he bought the skeleton of the dead horse for 500 tales of gold and brought it back to the king. The king flew into a rage when he saw the skeleton. “I need a living horse. Why did you buy me a dead one?” demanded the king. He answered with an easy, self-possessed mien, “Your majesty has earned the reputation that he treasured even the skeleton of a dead thorough-bred horse; thus, he would certainly treasure living thorough-bred horses still more. Once your majesty’s reputation becomes known, the thorough-bred horses will come uninvited!” As expected, the owners of thoroughbred horses came in a continuous stream with their horses during the following year.

After King Zhao heard the story, he brightened Guo continued, “If your majesty really aims to win over talents, please consider treating me preferentially, then it will soon attract those who are more talented than I.” In this way, Guo hoped to show others that King Zhao was courteous to the wise and condescending to talent. Following Guo’s advice, King Zhao built up a palace for Guo, treated him as his teacher, and constructed the “Gold Platform” to attract talented people. Shocked by this measure, Yue Yi, Zou Yan, Ju Xin, and many other talents came to join King Zhao in droves, and it finally helped the state of Yan defeat Qi.

By telling the story of the relationship between King Zhao of Yan and Guo Wei, Xi Jinping introduced the methodology of attracting talent. Our leading officials must have a good sense of treasuring talented people. Only if we remain courteous to the learned and respect talent can we make the best use of all the talents in our country. Xi often stresses, “We should make good and flexible use of talents, establish a more flexible talent management mechanism, and eliminate the obstacles of the system and mechanism to open up the channel of talent flow and use.” This requires leading officials at all levels to equip themselves with the awareness of seeking talent with eagerness and further optimize the mechanism of attracting talent. This is the inevitable course toward Xi’s vision that the “employment of a competent person will attract more competent people, and all the others will take them as an example.”

Respecting Elders Is a Great Virtue

The Chinese nation has a fine tradition of respecting elders. “Do reverence to the elders in your own family and extend it to those in other families.” This thought was put forward by Mencius as early as 2000 years ago, when he answered King Xuan of Qi’s questions about how to run a country. He elevated the tradition of “respecting elders” to the strategy of running the country. In the ruling classes of the past imperial dynasties, it was often seen that a father and his son fought against with each other for power and even appealed to arms. The proposition to respect the elder was their only means to present a false appearance of peace and prosperity and to win the people’s support. Nevertheless, the working people under their dominion valued “respecting elders” as a great virtue that was necessary for them to conduct themselves in society, and they made it a custom through long usage. Today, this traditional virtue has evolved into a part of the socialist spiritual civilization by abandoning the original imperial elements and absorbing up-to-date social connotations. Our young- and middle-aged officials should practice what we preach and set an example.

  • Young and Middle-aged Officials Should Respect the “Veterans”—A Signed Article on the People’s Daily (December 7, 1984).


It is a tradition for the Chinese people to conduct the funeral of their parents with meticulous care and to remember to make sacrifices to distant ancestors. “Respecting elders” is an emotional symbol shared by us, and it is a value-orientation that can strike a chord. In 1984, Xi Jinping published the article Young and Middle-aged Officials Should Respect “Veterans” in the People’s Daily at the young age of 31, in which he quoted the verses of Zheng Banqiao to praise the value of elderly officials—“The new bamboo branches are taller than the old ones, and their growth is totally supported by the old branches.” He noted that the succession of position within our Party and government neither represents the transfer of power between individual or opposing interest groups nor implies a power struggle, but it is rather a relay race aiming at a common goal and dedicated to a common cause.

Xi Jinping shows special respect for veteran comrades. When he worked in Zhengding County, Heibei Province, he always went out by bicycle unless he had to go outside the city gate. Instead, he assigned the BJ212, the only jeep of the county Party committee, to the veteran officials. When he found that there was no activity site for them, he emptied out the large meeting room shared by the county Party committee and the county government and set the room as the recreation room for elderly officials. Many elderly officials were reluctant to say goodbye to him when he was leaving Zhengding. One of them, Qi Yong, said, “Secretary Xi, we are really unwilling to have you transferred!” In the Hongruiyuan Shop of the Restaurant for the Aged in the Chengguan District, Lanzhou, Gansu Province, where he visited on February 4, 2013, he served a meal to the 72-year-old retired worker Yang Lintai in person. On November 3, 2013, he visited Shi Qiwen’s family, a destitute household in Shibadong Village, Huayuan County, Xiangxi, Hunan Province. He held her hand and asked about her age. Informed that she was already 64, Xi said to her, “You are my senior.” On December 28 of the same year, he participated in a reading activity at the Sijiqing Senior’s Home in Beijing and patiently listened to the elder reciting the Song of Health.

Xi’s proposition of “respecting the elder” is also embodied in his attention to family tradition and family education. When his father Xi Zhongxun’s 88th birthday party was held in Shenzhen on October 15, 2001, the three generations of his family and many other relatives and friends all attended the party for the celebration, except Xi Jinping, then Provincial Governor of Fujian. This was not because he was unwilling to attend the party, but it was rather that he could not absent himself from the strains of office. He felt ashamed, and thus sent a letter of birthday felicitations to his father. He wrote affectionately in the letter that his perception of parents was like his affection for them, becoming deeper and deeper with the passing of time, and he hoped to inherit and learn the precious and noble qualities from his father.

Xi has treated the tradition of respecting the elder as a time-honored treasure. When he was transferred from Beijing to Zhengding, he stressed this tradition and stated, “Our young and middle-aged officials should practice what we preach and set an example.” Decades later, he took this sentiment with him while being transferred back to Beijing. He repeatedly highlighted that “We should cultivate a healthy environment of respecting, caring and learning from the elders in our whole society,” and he required that “Party committees and governments at all levels should conscientiously carry out work concerning veteran officials in the new situation from the perspective of inheriting our Party’s fine work style and carrying forward the traditional virtues of the Chinese nation.” As we enter the period of social transition, there is a risk of “getting old before getting rich” in the wake of population aging. Therefore, our traditional virtue of respecting elders will give us a leg up in coping with this risk. Xi’s reaffirmation of this tradition is of distinctive epochal significance because it is about the inheritance of our culture; moreover, it concerns the complex issue of reform and development.