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Reinterpreting Chinese Classics: “To the south of the Huaihe River grow oranges, while to the north grow bitter oranges”

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Reinterpreting Chinese Classics: “To the south of the Huaihe River grow oranges, while to the north grow bitter oranges”

June 13
23:54 2022

President Xi Jinping used the quote “To the south of the Huaihe River grow oranges, while to the north grow bitter oranges” in his speech at the meeting marking the 60th anniversary of the National People’s Congress on September 5, 2014. ( 



Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/nBVXUAA-__Q)

It hails from the Annals of Master Yan (Yan Zi Chunqiu), a Chinese classic about statesman and political thinker Yan Ying of Kingdom Qi during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.).

The sentence means that suitability rules supreme. The oranges planted north of the Huaihe River are smaller and less tasty than those in the south, because the latter is more suitable for the fruit to grow.

In a modern society, cultural exchanges and mutual learning have become the norm. Living in a colorful world, we should uphold inclusiveness, learn from the best of other civilizations, and absorb these lessons independently.

People should not follow others without trying to fully understand them first. By attempting to walk like a swan, the crow loses its own step. Blindly copying the political systems of other countries rarely works. It usually proves counterproductive and could even spell the end to a country’s independent destiny.

Western countries often level false accusations against China’s political system, because they have yet to appreciate the merits of the whole-process people’s democracy, a system that is deeply rooted and has made a difference in China.

In the eyes of the Chinese, the best way to evaluate whether a country’s political system is democratic and efficient is to observe whether the succession of its leading body is orderly and in line with the law, whether all people can manage state affairs and social, economic and cultural affairs in conformity with legal provisions, whether the public can express their requirements without hindrance, whether all sectors can efficiently participate in the country’s political affairs, whether national decisions can be made in a rational, democratic way, whether professionals from all fields can be part of the team of national leadership and administrative systems through fair competition, whether the ruling party can serve as a leader in state affairs in accordance with the Constitution and laws, and whether the exercise of power can be kept under effective restraint and supervision.

China’s whole-process people’s democracy covers elections, consultations, decision-making, management and oversight, and is all-inclusive. Following the completion of their terms, officials enter a process of smooth transition. The Chinese Government has offered greater opportunities for the people to participate in political affairs, so that their voices can be heard on diverse issues.

China has developed a unique socialist consultative democracy, pooling the wisdom and strength of all political parties, organizations, ethnic groups and sectors of society. The country has also maximized the transparency of decision-making to ensure all decisions serve the people’s interests and aspirations.

China has put in place an improved system for scrutiny to guarantee that Party and government organs, as well as their staff, exercise their power in accordance with the proper authorization and procedures.

No two political systems on Earth are exactly alike, and no one model can fit all countries. Some countries copied the American-style democracy after so-called “color revolutions.” Others saw their governments toppled by the U.S. and its model forcibly implemented. They were, however, unable to execute this model due to a mismatch in national conditions.

To the south of the Huaihe River grow oranges, while to the north grow bitter oranges. China’s political system grows on Chinese soil. It will continue to thrive as it is grounded in the country’s reality.

Media Contact
Company Name: Center for the Americas, China International Communications Group
Contact Person: Ding Ying
Email: Send Email
Country: China
Website: https://youtu.be/nBVXUAA-__Q