Xi encourages Chinese society to read more; president's booklist trending on social media
Published: Apr 23, 2022 06:08 PM
Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

President Xi Jinping encouraged Chinese people to read more to foster a good reading environment on Saturday, April 23 - the World Book Day, in a congratulatory letter sent to China's first national reading campaign. Meanwhile, Xi's remarks on reading as well as his book recommendations have again become trending topics on social media. 

In the letter, Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said reading is an important channel for people to acquire knowledge, gain wisdom, and raise their moral standards, adding that reading has been encouraged by the Chinese nation since ancient times and has helped shape the Chinese people's confident and self-strengthening characters.

Xi said he hopes Party members and officials can take the lead in reading, and encouraged children to develop a habit of reading.

Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

This is not the first time for the president to encourage people to do more reading. When visiting the headquarters of Duzhe Publishing and Media Corp on August 21, 2019, Xi expressed hope to promote reading and build a society with a good environment for reading in order to strengthen people's spirits. It is also good to provide the people with more cultural products, he said. 

By Saturday afternoon, the hashtag "Xi: reading is my life-long hobby'' on social media platform Sina Weibo has attracted more than 60 million views, with many netizens reposting Xi's book recommendations and remarks on reading. 

Aside from encouraging people to read more, Xi himself also enjoys reading. During an interview with a Russian television on February 7, 2014, President Xi said reading has become a lifestyle for him. Reading makes the thoughts innovative, enlightens wisdom, and fosters the spirit, Xi said. 

<em>A Hero of Our Time</em>. Photo: Web

A Hero of Our Time. Photo: Web

Xi also shared his reading experience. In an article published by Guangming Daily on October 14, 2016, Xi wrote that he read many works of Russian writers. A Hero of Our Time, a novel by Mikhail Lermontov, is one of Xi's favorite. Xi said he had such strong feelings when he read the book in Liangjiahe in Shaanxi Province. In 1969, 15-year-old Xi Jinping arrived in Liangjiahe amid a campaign that saw millions of urban young people live and work in the countryside.

The book <em>Faust</em>. Photo: Web

The book Faust. Photo: Web

Xi also noted that he borrowed the book Faust when working in the countryside from a young man who lived 15 kilometers away from him, and enjoyed it very much. After being urged several times, he returned the book. 

Xi also shared his experience of reading the story of Yue Fei. When he was five or six years old, Xi's mother bought him picture books about Yue Fei, a military commander during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). Yue's story, Xi told primary school students in Beijing in 2014, left a lasting impression on him.

Yue is a household name in China. The legendary general fought battles against invaders, and is remembered not only as a national hero but also for his loyalty and courage. Legend has it that Yue's mother tattooed four Chinese characters on her back: "Jing Zhong Bao Guo," meaning serving the country with total loyalty.

"My mother read me his story from the picture books. I said how painful it must have been to be tattooed on his back!" Xi said. "And she said, of course it hurts, but in this way, it was engraved on Yue's mind."

Graphic: GT

Graphic: GT

In the past years, when President Xi delivered the New Year speech, the bookshelf behind him had also caught people's attention. For example, Chinese classic and modern literature works, including the Classic of Poetry (also known as Shijing), the works of Lu Xun, books on science (including The Origins of Continents and Oceans) and international politics (including Henry Kissinger's World Order), have been placed on the shelf.

On the World Book Day in 2020, a long list of books recommended by President Xi was trending on Chinese social media. And the list was reposted by many netizens on Saturday. The booklist summarized previous reports by media outlets including the People's Daily, China Central Television and the Xinhua News Agency, in which Xi mentioned or quoted the books in public reports or his previous speeches. 

Topping the list are classic works of Marxism-Leninism such as The Communist Manifesto. Many books of different genres, including classics and modern works, are on the list, including works of modern Chinese literature and foreign classics, like Shakespeare's plays.