China
Family bonds are the national foundation
By Lan Xinzhen  ·  2023-09-25  ·   Source: NO.39 SEPTEMBER 28, 2023
The Mid-Autumn Festival, a traditional Chinese festival dating back to ancient times, is themed on family reunion. It falls on the 15th day of the eighth month on the Chinese lunar calendar, which this year is September 29. Whenever possible, Chinese people will reunite with family members, appreciate the full moon and enjoy mooncakes, round pastries that are a special treat for the celebration, on the day of the festival. The full moon is a symbol of reunion and harmony for Chinese people.

The Mid-Autumn Festival and the Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, which is celebrated somewhere between late January and mid-February, are the two major festivals for family reunion in China, as well as times for families to show their commitment to shared values.

When attending a Spring Festival reception in February 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping offered a quote in his speech: "The foundation of the world lies in the nation, and the foundation of the nation lies in the family." The quote was chosen from The Book of Mencius, a collection of conversations and anecdotes from the Chinese Confucian philosopher Mencius (372-289 B.C.). It underlines the role of the family in underpinning good governance and social stability.

Family bonds have always been highly valued by the Chinese people. Parents' love for children, children's filial piety and respect for parents, as well as love between siblings are considered fundamental for one to be a benevolent person. The Chinese consider their sense of belonging to the country to be similar to their sense of belonging to their family. They believe that the future of a family is closely connected with that of the nation, and integrate their love for their family with that for the country. 

China's history is filled with stories about instilling family values. Zhuge Liang (181-234), an eminent strategist in the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), famously told his son, "Cultivate your character by keeping a peaceful mind and nourish your morality by practicing economy."

The mother of Song Dynasty (960-1279) general Yue Fei (1103-42) tattooed four Chinese characters translating to "serve the country with the utmost loyalty" on her son's back.

The family motto of Zhu Yongchun (1627-98), a Confucian scholar in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), stated, "Always cherish the fruits of hard work."

These are some examples that illustrate how the Chinese educate their offspring through words and deeds, a practice considered a traditional virtue. For thousands of years, the Chinese nation has weathered hardships and remained on its feet. It has never yielded and has emerged stronger each time. This resilience can be attributed to the love for the family and the country captured in the Chinese traditions.

During the 2001 Spring Festival, Xi, then Governor of Fujian Province, was not able to visit his parents in Beijing. When learning Xi was unable to do so because he was occupied by official business during a phone call, Xi's mother told him, "Getting your job done is the greatest token of filial piety. It is about being responsible toward the family and yourself."

The formative influence of his parents partly explains why Xi attaches great importance to the role of the family in promoting solid national governance. He emphasized at the 2018 Spring Festival reception, "We should nurture and practice core socialist values, carry forward the traditional virtues of the Chinese nation, love both our family and our country, and integrate personal and family dreams with the dreams of the nation."

China is pursuing Chinese modernization, which is the modernization of a large population, of common prosperity for all, of material and cultural-ethical advancement, of harmony between humans and nature, and of peaceful development. On the journey, many families together make up the bedrock of China's development, the nation's progress and its social harmony. They are pooling power to realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson 

Comments to lixiaoyang@cicgamericas.com 

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