Xi Story: Xi's simple meals

(Xinhua) 08:36, December 14, 2022

BEIJING, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- An exhibit at the National Museum of China, revealing what Xi Jinping ate on an inspection trip, captivated much attention from visitors.

Now moved to the museum's online section, the order for dinner still receives many clicks.

It was a simple meal for 10 people -- braised chicken, local mixed stew, stir-fried pork, vegetables, and wax gourd soup. There was no alcohol.

Xi sat down in this small restaurant in the county of Fuping in Hebei Province during an inspection in late December 2012. It was just over a month after he was elected general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. The food order not just revealed Xi's preference for simple meals, but drove home a key point in a set of rules that were colloquially called the "eight-point decision."

In early December 2012, Xi led the formulation of the game-changing code of conduct, laying down rules in eight aspects to improve leading Party cadres' conduct. They are required to conduct down-to-earth grassroots research, trim their entourage, hold fewer meetings, make shorter speeches, and practice frugality in their work and life.

At the eight-point decision's formulation, Xi said the Party's top leadership must abide by these rules. And he took the lead in setting a good example.

His meal choice sent a strong message as Chinese people regard "food as the first necessity" and what the top leader ate rightly reminded all Party members of the Party's fine tradition of frugality: they must resist any tendency to extravagance -- lavish meals included.

The general secretary indeed had a preference for simple dishes: in Gutian, Fujian Province, he lunched with grassroots representatives over plain red rice and pumpkin soup; in rural Shaanxi Province, he joined local folks to eat Loess Plateau dishes such as buckwheat noodles and fried dough.

And Xi would insist on paying the bills, even for a home-cooked meal for three that cost less than 100 yuan (about 14 U.S. dollars).

Such a thrifty style spills into every aspect of Xi's work and life: during inspections, he travels light and lives simply; for diplomatic visits, he gives clear instructions to precisely calculate the number of days the delegation stays in the hotel, in order to avoid wasting money.

While eating simply himself, Xi has ordinary people's meals on his mind. In the 1970s, as the Party chief in a poor village in northwest China, Xi said his earnest wish was "to make it possible for the villagers to have meat and have it often."

Back then, life for villagers was hard -- often no meat would grace their tables for months. Today, for people across the 1.4-billion-population country, meat is no longer a luxury, as China has eliminated absolute poverty and achieved building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

But still, understanding what people eat remains an important part of Xi's inspection tours. He often visits the kitchens of ordinary homes to check what people eat and walks into the fields to see what is being grown at farms. It gives him insight into how people really live.

"I'm occupied with such kinds of stuff," Xi said. "The people's well-being is the country's most fundamental interest."

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


Related Stories