Integrity and thrift: Uncovering Xi Jinping’s family traditions

A photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping (R), his wife Peng Liyuan (L), with his mother Qi Xin (C). /CMG

A photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping (R), his wife Peng Liyuan (L), with his mother Qi Xin (C). /CMG

The second Sunday of May marks the Mother’s Day, a day when people around the world appreciate and honor mothers.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s mother Qi Xin believes that one of the most pressing concerns for any parent is the growth of their children. “If something goes wrong with the children, the parents bear undeniable responsibilities,” she once said.

She once fully transcribed a motto passed down from the Ming Dynasty to the present day, which roughly says that justice is the only way to distinguish right from wrong, and integrity is the only way to establish one’s authority.

The motto marked Qi’s teaching for her son. 

Importance of integrity

After Xi took on leadership roles, his mother once arranged a family meeting to ask her other children not to engage in business activities in the areas where Xi worked.

Influenced by his mother, Xi would warn his friends and relatives not to do any business in the places where he worked, nor do anything under his name.

Xi has incorporated these beliefs into his governance practices.

In January, Xi called for fostering stronger family ties, values and traditions, at the third plenary session of the 20th Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, saying that leading officials must maintain integrity and set strict rules for their relatives and children.

Public awareness initiatives to promote the principle of integrity and cases of models in this regard are also required to foster public respect for integrity and bolster resistance to corruption, he added.

A photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping (back, R), his mother Qi Xin (front L), his father Xi Zhongxun (front, R), and his wife Peng Liyuan (back, L). /CMG

A photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping (back, R), his mother Qi Xin (front L), his father Xi Zhongxun (front, R), and his wife Peng Liyuan (back, L). /CMG

Virtue of thrift

Promoting the virtue of thrift is another important family tradition of Xi as his mother has always maintained a simple lifestyle.

Under the influence of the family traditions, Xi also lives a simple life and does not hold high standards on what he wears or eats.

Xi has attached great importance to food security as well as the virtue of thrift. He has repeatedly called for promoting the social custom of practicing thrift and opposing waste. 

Calling the issue of food waste shocking and distressing, he has stressed the need to resolutely putting an end to wasting food and called for promoting thrift in 2020.

To curb the bad practice of food wastage, China launched a comprehensive “Clear Your Plate” campaign in recent years, with restaurants and canteens displaying anti-food waste posters and banners and media publishing content that promotes the virtue of frugality.

“The habit of thrift and frugality should be preserved; in my family to this day, for what is served in the bowl, not a single grain of rice can be wasted,” he told deputies from Shandong Province at the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress in 2018.