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Xi calls for dialogue of civilizations

Updated: 2019-05-15 08:51:34

( China Daily Global )

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Teenager's passion

Over 40 years ago a teenager fascinated by Faust, a masterpiece of Western literature written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, walked over a dozen kilometers of bumpy and dusty country road just to borrow the book from a fellow student.

That teenager was Xi Jinping.

It was toward the end of the 1960s, an age of scarcity with little to read, when Xi was sent from Beijing to work as a farmer in a poverty-stricken village in northwestern China's Shaanxi province.

An avid reader of not only Chinese but also foreign literary works, Xi read whatever books he managed to find during his seven years there, from old Chinese textbooks to plays written by William Shakespeare.

"To be, or not to be," Xi pondered the question on the barren Loess Plateau, and eventually made up his mind to dedicate himself to serving his country and the people.

Like other young men, Xi would emulate his favorite protagonist in the books.

After reading What Is to Be Done?, a novel written by the Russian author Nikolai Chernyshevsky in which the leading character lives an ascetic life, even going so far as to sleep on a bed of nails to strengthen his will, Xi removed his cotton-padded mattress and chose to sleep directly on a brick bed so as to strengthen his own willpower.

"Art and literary works are the best way for different nations and peoples to understand and communicate with each other," Xi said in 2014 when recalling the books he had read during his youth.

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