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WHO. He is the father of the current Chinese president and it is 110 years since his birth. He was one of Mao Zedong's comrades and a bigwig of the first generation of Chinese communist leaders.

WHAT. On the occasion of this important date, the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV is broadcasting a documentary about him, an opportunity to learn more about the past of the omnipresent Chinese leader and those close to him.

China's state-run CCTV has been broadcasting a six-part documentary on a loop for a few days now, about the father of the ubiquitous President Xi Jinping. It is the 110th anniversary of the birth of Xi Zhongxun, one of Mao Zedong's comrades and a bigwig of the first generation of Chinese communist leaders. The excuse of the anniversary was perfect to rally the Xi family around the figure of the late patriarch.

The documentary, titled Chicheng, which translated from Mandarin means Total Devotion, reviews the revolutionary career of Xi Sr., who led several guerrilla groups in the north until he became, after the proclamation of the People's Republic of China (1949), vice premier. What the film forgets to point out is that, a little more than a decade later, on the eve of the Cultural Revolution, Xi Zhongxun was accused of treason.

He went from being a revolutionary hero to a pest. He ended up in prison and his family, publicly humiliated, also suffered the consequences. Xi Jinping, like many other young people from wealthy families in the big cities, was not spared from forced labor in the countryside. And many reports point to one of his sisters committing suicide.

After only six months of digging wells in a village in northern China, Xi Jinping fled the countryside and sought refuge again in Beijing. But the young rebel did not count on his own mother, instead of opening the doors of her house to him, to denounce him to the authorities. She, Qi Xin, didn't want her son to become a defector for life.

"The entire Xi family suffered unjust persecution by Mao's Red Guards. The current president was a teenager when his family separated and he was left to fend for himself. Before being sent to the camp, he ended up in a reformatory and became a counter-revolutionary juvenile delinquent. He even had to beg on some occasions," Professor Alfred L. Chan, one of the biographers of the man who is now probably the most powerful man in the world, told this newspaper. No other leader of a superpower concentrates so much power in his hands without having to answer to anyone for his decisions or being questioned in the political and media arena of his country.

The social rehabilitation of the Xi family came in the early years of openness under the leadership of reformist Deng Xiaoping. The father's reintegration came with a position as deputy manager of a tractor factory. Then, back in politics, Xi Zhongxun was one of the driving forces behind the special economic zones that made the Guangdong region the world's factory.

Xi's father died in 2002. In the documentary, his widow, Qi Xin, 97, makes a strange appearance, who is interviewed in several episodes and who highlights the humility that her husband transmitted to his children. Regarding the figure of the matriarch, Chinese propaganda claims that Qi, who was also working as a peasant during the Cultural Revolution, joined the army in the late 30s, in the war against the Japanese, and that she led a women's battalion.

Among the characters in the documentary is the president's younger brother, Xi Yuanping, who runs an environmental organization. And the eldest sister, businesswoman Qi Qiaoqiao, who opened a fund with investments in the mining and real estate sector.

  • Global Courtyard
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