Xi cites Mao as touchstone to build new China

‘Maintain a fighting spirit and strengthen the ability to struggle to meet the targets set by the party’

Amid a trade war with the U.S., Chinese President Xi Jinping has visited the ground zero of the revolution, pointing to the continuity of the “great struggle” to build a new China, ahead of the 70th anniversary of the formation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

During his back-to-the-roots visits, President Xi is evoking memories associated with Mao Zedong, the founding father of the PRC, and the nascent phase of China’s socialist revolution.

So far, during his carefully choreographed travels, President Xi has hardly mentioned Mao’s successors, including Deng Xiaoping, as China heads to celebrate 70 years of socialism on October 1. Last week, Mr. Xi visited Fragrant Hills, briefly the headquarters of the Communist Party of China (CPC), just before the triumph of the revolution in October 1949. Accompanied by Wang Huning, the CPC’s top ideologue and part of the seven-member Standing Committee of the Politburo, China’s top leadership, Mr. Xi first visited Shuangqing Villa, Mao’s abode at Fragrant Hills, on the outskirts of Beijing. The walk-around also included visits to living areas of the first generation of revolutionaries — Zhu De, Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai and Ren Bishi.

After keeping a relatively low profile recently, Mr. Wang was also part of Mr. Xi’s entourage that visited the CPC’s Party School in Beijing on September 3. During an address at the Party School, where the CPC’s elite is trained, Mr. Xi delivered a stirring back-to-the-trenches speech. In his address, Mr. Xi cited the word “struggle”, a Maoist era coinage in the context of China, over 50 times.

Prosperous society

The President exhorted his audience of young and middle level officials “that maintaining a fighting spirit and strengthening the ability to struggle is a must in meeting the targets set by the party,” which include the two centenary goals — achieving a moderately prosperous society in the next two years and delivering an advanced socialist nation by 2050.

He warned of the “unthinkably challenging” road ahead and citied the “long-term nature of various struggles”. Mr. Xi urged his audience to “notice a deer passing by, looking at the grass and leaves, see a tiger jumping out by hearing the wind in the pines, and know the coming of autumn by spotting the changed colour of a tree leaf”.

At Fragrant Hills, eight revolutionary sites have been opened earlier this month, including the Shuangqing Villa, following extensive renovation since last year.

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