Learning From Xi Jinping

by Joel Martinsen

19.-Box-4President Xi Jinping’s surname occurs as the second character in the ordinary Chinese word for study, xuexi 学习. That term can also be read ‘learn from Xi’. State media have run columns under punning headlines: ‘Learn from Xi through Pictures’ 学习图解, ‘Big Data for Learning from Xi’ 学习大数据, ‘Notes on Learning from Xi’ 学习笔记, and ‘Learning from Xi from the Heart’ 学习心得, all of which appear on the website of the People’s Daily under the heading ‘The Proper Way to Learn from Xi’ 学习有方. Here are some examples:

Yang Zhenwu on Xi Jinping

In the 28 May 2014 edition of the People’s Daily, editor Yang Zhenwu 杨振武 explicated a range of Xi Jinping’s speeches regarding the media’s responsibility to guide public opinion. Yang’s explanations, recapped on the paper’s website the following day in a handy text-
commentary form for easy reading, covered subjects ranging from confidence in China’s unique path of development, to materialism and dialectics and the appropriate methods for disseminating propaganda. Yang interpreted Xi’s remark that ‘Ideas and beliefs are the bones of the spirit of Party members’, as a call for propaganda workers to remain steadfast in their beliefs, and discussed the importance of the ‘main melody’ 主旋律 and ‘positive energy’ 正能量 as values.

Hands: Invisible and Visible 看不见的手/看得见的手

At a Politburo meeting on 26 May concerning the government’s role in market resource allocation, Xi Jinping stressed the need to use both the ‘invisible’ hand of the market and the ‘visible’ hand of the government. In its discussion of ‘deepening reforms’ at the time of the Third Plenum in October 2013, the People’s Daily had called for a more effective use of ‘visible hands’, since ‘the market only has vitality through cautious action by the government’ 政府慎作为,市场才有活力. Presaging the theme of the Fourth Plenum in October 2014, the article refers to ‘letting the “visible hands” wear the “gloves” of the rule of law’.

Zero Tolerance 零容忍

Xi Jinping has called for ‘zero tolerance’ in a number of areas, including threats to state security (in particular, the ‘three evil forces’ of terrorism, separatism, and extremism), corruption, violations of party discipline, work safety infractions and repugnant behaviour by law enforcement and justice officials.

Kin in Grass Sandals 草鞋亲戚

This refers to the officials who inform the central government leadership about local conditions. Yang Yizhou 杨奕周, an official in Xiadang county, Fujian province, is the leading exemplar. In 1989, he met Xi Jinping, then party secretary of Ningde, Fujian, and became one of his closest ‘kin in grass sandals’.