BEIJING: Sunday marks the Lantern Festival, the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations, which are about family reunions.
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, values getting together with family members for festivities. Family gatherings are the most joyful occasions, and reunions are the happiest, he said at the 2018 Spring Festival gathering held by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council.
Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, has proven time and again that statement himself, and has long been making time for family on special occasions despite his tight schedule.
In 2001, Xi, then governor of east China’s Fujian Province, wrote his father Xi Zhongxun a heartfelt letter after missing the family celebration for his 88th birthday.
Xi would spend time with his mother whenever he was available, having dinner, taking a walk, or chatting.
Xi’s wife Peng Liyuan, a celebrated singer, used to perform at the annual Spring Festival gala broadcast nationwide on the eve of the holiday in Beijing. So when he worked in the provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang, as long as Xi had time to spend the Spring Festival with his family in Beijing, he would make dumplings at home while watching the gala and waiting until Peng finished her work. The family would boil the dumplings when Peng was home and have their festival dinner together.
These dumplings by Xi, as well as the best wishes for an auspicious future that they symbolize, have also been shared by others.
Since assuming the Party’s top job in November 2012, Xi has always taken time to join the family reunions of local people, those in difficulties in particular, extending his festive greetings and learning about their difficulties ahead of the Spring Festival.
Ahead of the Spring Festival in 2019, Xi toured a “hutong,” or a traditional alley, in central Beijing’s Qianmen area. He visited two courtyard homes in the hutong, including the home of retired worker Zhu Maojin, then 72. Xi gladly chatted with locals and made dumplings with them, asking about the improvements to their living conditions after a renovation project in their neighborhood and their festival purchases.
“As per tradition in Beijing, we used to go to fairs days before the festival. We don’t have such markets in the city now, but we still go to the supermarkets to buy things and cook food at home for the Lunar New Year,” Zhu said.
Dumplings and other foods are not only a matter of diet for Xi, as he understands they are related to people’s well-being. Behind the idea of a family reunion is love. “Never let long distances sever family ties, and never forget loving or expressing love, no matter how busy you are,” Xi said at the 2017 Spring Festival gathering.
Xi advocates combining the love for family with love for the country so that every individual and family can contribute to the big family of the Chinese nation.
“What the Party pursues is to make the people’s lives better,” he once said.