Xi personally encountered how the entire Chinese countryside was mired in starvation and death.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
The state-owned television behemoths have taken up high-quality documentary film production as a major strategy shift over the past two years, and they have been churning out top level stuff.
We haven't watched this one about Xi, but we are willing to bet it is excellent, because of the great quality of Russian filmmaking lately, and because the Chinese probably gave Russian filmmakers excellent access to original materials.
As America more and more takes the position that China is a serious adversary and threat, articulated very clearly by Trump, insights into understanding China coming from the Russians are invaluable.
This looks very interesting. Full transcript of this segment below.
Dmitry Kiselev: It was announced on Monday that Vladimir Putin is going to pay China a state visit on June 8. He’s also expected to take part in a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.
At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the Russian president stressed more than once that China is Russia’s largest trade partner and its main investor. This is partly thanks to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s strong political will.
By the way, Xi is the main character of a new documentary by Alexei Denisov, called "The Chinese Dream. The Path of Revival." Watch the premiere on our channel today, after the Sunday Evening with Vladimir Soloviev. We're going to show you a part of the movie right now.
Start of film segment
This is northern Shaanxi province. In a snowy valley surrounded by yellow mountains, Liangjiahe, a tiny village, can be found. Almost a half-century ago, during the Cultural Revolution, China’s current leader Xi Jinping traveled here for "re-education through labor" and stayed here for seven long years.
Xi Jinping, 2004 interview, television archive, Yan'an: "My fundamental ideas were formed on the Shenbei plateau. My whole life-path was decided there."
Xi Jinping was born in Beijing in June 1953. His father was one of the central figures in the Chinese Communist Party and held high-profile political posts. Everything changed in the early 1960's when Xi Jinping’s father was accused of involvement in an anti-party plot, purged from all leadership positions, and kicked out of Beijing.
Shortly after, a group of educated urban youths, including Xi Jinping, was sent for “re-education through labor” to the Shaanxi province. He realized this was a totally different world when locals saw him feed a dog with a piece of stale bread.
Xi Jinping: “I wouldn’t say we were wasteful. But that bread was old and wasn’t edible anymore. When I was going through everything in my bag, I found that piece of bread and gave it to a dog standing by the door. The locals, however, had never seen or eaten bread before. They asked me ‘What is it?’ ‘it’s bread’, I said.
Someone told a dozen of villagers about what they saw. Those then shared the news with another hundred people. So the rumor started that a group of young people, who feed dogs with bread, has come to the village. As if we were different or had done something abnormal.”
Xi Jinping and his comrades arrived in Liangjiahe on January 23, 1969. At the time, the area was rural, didn’t have any roads, electricity, or stores. We're the first Russian journalists to reach the area. Xi Jinping recalls how difficult it was for someone who grew up in the Chinese capital to adjust to the rough living conditions of a poor, remote village. He was living in a typical cave home dug into the hillsides.
A wood board served as an entrance door to the cave and was usually covered with a piece of paper on the inside. Xi Jinping and five of his friends lived here for over two years. A straw-mat and a quilt spread over clay bricks was their bed. The seven years of the younger Xi’s country life began here.
This was Xi Jinping's first address in Liangjiahe. China's future leader's sleeping position was second-closest to the hearth.
In the next five years, he lived in a few other homes. Xi Jinping admits that the first few months of living in the village were a shocking experience for him. Besides the cold, lack of space and basic amenities, community dwellers had to put up with malnutrition and flea bites.
Xi Jinping: “I couldn’t stand fleas. My skin was very allergic to them. They bit my skin into swathes of red sores that became blisters that burst. It was very painful. But after three years it changed. If I got a flea bite, I didn’t have an allergic reaction. It was as if my skin had changed.”
Back then, local peasants mostly ate gruel of cornmeal, wheat, and millet. In the spring, when the community ran out of food, in order to survive people ate wild plants and herbs.
"There's a saying: 'In January you're rich, in February poor. And around March or April, you're half-dead.' We saved food for those who worked in the fields. So women and children had to live by begging. We slowly got used to living there and learned things. We ate everything we were given, since we didn't have much of a choice.
The best was the food that other villagers gave to us. My favorite dish was pickled vegetables. Sometimes I still think about those pickled vegetables. We didn't have meat for months. But when we finally got some, we couldn't resist it. We would cut a piece and eat it raw."
Li Jinlian met Xi Jinping in 1969 when he and his team attended her wedding. According to Li, in those times, a work day began early. You weren't allowed to be late. Otherwise, you could get fined.
Li Jinlian, a Liangjiahe dweller: "I remember Xi as a hard-working, modest man. He always treated others with respect and was willing to do any kind of work. For example, when he had to carry manure over to the mountains, he would always take full baskets. And when it was something else, he would always carry heavy baskets. I remember how his shoulder got rubbed sore from carrying all the weights. But he kept working through the pain."
There's a Chinese saying: “When drinking water, think about the person who built the well.” The well built by the young Xi Jinping when the village was out of water is now a local point of attraction. It even has a memorial tablet. According to locals, the village now boasts a small smithy thanks to the young man from Beijing and his organizational skills.
Xi Jinping: "At first I didn't know how to do anything and had to rely on others a lot. But later on, I slowly learned things. Now I can do just about anything. For example, I can spin a yarn. I'm still not very good at knitting woolen socks. But I can mend rips in clothing quite well."
Xi Jinping admits that the exhausting agricultural work was one of the major hardships for urban youths. Neither he nor his friends were ready for it. There was no machinery, and they had to do everything manually, using the most basic tools.
Reflecting on that period of his life, Xi Jinping once said: “I thought a lot about whether I should live or die. In the end, I concluded that I should direct all of my energy towards helping my country and its people.”
For centuries, local peasants produced flour by spinning these heavy millstones with the help of donkeys and mules. For a few years, that was the only way Xi Jinping and his comrades could grind the grain. However, one day something remarkable happened.
In 1974, the government decided to reward Xi Jinping for his hard work with a fantastic prize: a new motorcycle. However, to everyone’s amazement, Xi Jinping politely declined the personal gift. Instead, he asked for a mechanic mill that all the villagers would be able to use. And that's the story behind the first flour and maize milling machine in Liangjiahe.
In 1975 Xi Jinping finally got permission to return to Beijing. He enrolled to a chemical engineering program at Tsinghua University. Shortly after, his father was fully rehabilitated and released from prison.
Throughout his life, Xi Jinping held many positions in various cities and provinces of China. But he didn’t forget the Liangjiahe villagers. For example, after they sent him a letter, Xi Jinping helped the village get electrified in 1988. He last visited Liangjiahe in February 2015, this time in the capacity of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and President of the People's Republic of China.
The whole village was there to greet him. The locals are very proud of having a leader who once lived and worked in their village. They see him as a native, who truly cares about all the concerns and needs of the nation.
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