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Words that Xi Jinping popularized in 2019

"Don’t forget the Party’s original aspirations and firmly remember your mission."

On Friday, Xinhua News Agency’s top stories in English and Chinese are a return to one of the regular themes of Xí Jìnpíng 习近平: “the need to improve community-level healthcare services, promote equitable access to basic public services in urban and rural areas and provide safe, effective, convenient and affordable public health and basic healthcare services for the people.”

The People’s Daily leads with a story (in Chinese) titled “What words did Xi Jinping popularize in the first half of 2019?” There are 15 words. Here are a few of the most interesting ones:

Garbage sorting

垃圾分类 lājī fēnlèi

Xi is determined to get China to sort its garbage. It’s actually happening in Shanghai, where new rules are forcing residents and companies to change their waste disposal habits.

Reduce the burden on the grassroots; we will not withdraw troops until we have achieved absolute victory 

基层减负 jīcéng jiǎnfù; 不获全胜、决不收兵 bù huò quán shèng, jué bù shōubīng

These are two separate phrases in the People’s Daily’s list, but they are both connected to one of Xi’s major projects: poverty alleviation.

I am willing to negate myself in devotion to the people

我将无我,不负人民 wǒ jiāng wú wǒ, bù fù rénmín

Annata, the Buddhist concept of “non-self,” is 无我 wú wǒ in Chinese. It’s rather amusing for a man running a propaganda operation resembling a personality cult to claim he is “selfless.”

Gold does not change with the passing of time

历久弥坚金不换 lìjiǔ mí jiān jīn bùhuàn

When he met North Korea leader Kim Jong-un in June, Xi praised the long friendship between the two countries as being as constant as gold.

Black swans and gray rhinos 

黑天鹅 hēi tiān’é 灰犀牛 huī xīniú

In a January speech, Xi warned of heightened risks to the economy. Black swans are risks that are completely unpredictable. “Gray rhinoceros” comes from a book about large and obvious “dangers we ignore” until they start running too fast, or, as a People’s Daily explainer (in Chinese) puts it: “A gray rhino is massive, and responds slowly — you can see it clearly in the distance, but if it charges you, it will catch you off guard and gore you.”

Don’t forget the Party’s original aspirations and firmly remember your mission

不忘初心、牢记使命 bù wàng chūxīn, láojì shǐmìng

Respected Zhongnanhai scholar and tea leaf reader Willy Wo-Lap Lam (林和立 Lín Hélì) recently wrote about this slogan:

However, the calls for professing allegiance to the Party and reinstating its chuxin may be a cynical way for Xi to demand further loyalty to himself. As Xi stated in a Politburo study session in mid-2018, “[I]n upholding party leadership, the most important thing is to safeguard the authority of the party central authorities (中央, Zhōngyāng) and to concentrate and unify leadership [at the top].”

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Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn worked in China for 20 years as an editor and entrepreneur. He is editor-in-chief of SupChina, and co-founder of the Sinica Podcast.

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