The father of Chinese President Xi Jinping was one of the biggest victims of the Cultural Revolution and should be admired for advocating legislation to protect dissenting opinions, according to a prominent critic of the government.
Bao Tong, who served as the policy secretary for former Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang, told Voice of America that Xi Zhongxun was accused by Mao Zedong of “using novels to oppose the Chinese Communist Party” and was persecuted from 1962 until the end of the Cultural Revolution.
Bao described the elder Xi as easygoing and polite, saying that he admired Xi Zhongxun most for returning to an official role after his image was rehabilitated following the Cultural Revolution.
Xi Zhongxun served as governor of Guangdong province in southern China between 1979 and 1981 and later returned to Beijing to work at the Secretariat of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee. During this time, he proposed that China should have laws protecting dissenting opinions.
Xi Zhongxun believed that this move would “catch the root of all of China’s problems,” because official channels to communicate with the government would be liberalized, public sentiment would improve and leaders would not be absent-minded.
Bao recalled being filled with a deep admiration for Xi Zhongxun when he heard these comments.
Xi Jinping’s family was also the subject of a special Mother’s Day program aired by state broadcaster CCTV. The program described how the president’s mother, Qi Xin, joined the Communist Party during the initial stages of China’s war against Japan in the 1930s.
The program described how Qi’s words and deeds set an example for her son.
The Cultural Revolution was a period of Chinese history in the 1960s and 1970s when Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong sought to ideologically cleanse the country by targeting perceived enemies and concentrating power in a group of loyal paramilitaries known as the Red Guards. Widespread persecution continued in China up until Mao’s death in 1976.
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