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WATCH: Reading with Xi Jinping - The Old Man and the Sea

Published Apr 25, 2022

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By Liu Ning, Yuan Meng, Su Yingxiang, Xu Xiangli, Zhang Wenjie (People's Daily Online)

Under Ernest Hemingway’s pen, the novella The Old Man and the Sea tells the story of an ageing fisherman who engages in an epic battle to catch a giant marlin.

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With simple yet powerful words, the American writer’s book struck a chord with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

To experience both the inner world of Hemingway and the environment he was in when he wrote his books, Xi, during his two visits to Cuba, made a point of visiting the places Hemingway frequented.

He made his first visit to the Latin American country during his time as an official in China's Fujian Province. During that time, he stopped by the pier where Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea. There he saw scenes from the novella, and dined at the hotel where Hemingway wrote his stories.

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When he paid his second visit to Cuba as China’s Vice President in 2011, Xi dropped by the bar where Hemingway was a regular customer, and ordered a mojito – Hemingway's favorite drink.

Xi shared his appreciation of Hemingway with workers in China's cultural and art industry at the Symposium of Cultural and Art Work held October 2014 in Beijing. While delivering a speech at a welcoming dinner in Seattle on September 22, 2015, he once again lauded the literary giant and his timeless work of The Old Man and the Sea.

Xi was captivated by the descriptions of howling winds, driving rain, roaring waves, the small boat, the old man and the sharks in The Old Man and the Sea.

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But Man is not made for defeat.

A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same colour as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.

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The book is a true source of inspiration in showing us that when we face setbacks and failures, we must overcome ourselves first to secure a victory in the struggle against destiny.

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