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Xi Focus-Closeup: Moments of President Xi Jinping with children

BEIJING, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Children are the future of the country and the hope of the Chinese nation. The growth and wellbeing of children always weigh heavily on the mind of President Xi Jinping.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, has set aside time from his busy schedule whenever possible to visit children since he took office in 2012.

Some of the moments Xi shared with them offer insight into his high hopes for youngsters -- pursuing all-round development and growing into useful talent for society.

A SHOULDER GREETING

A shoulder greeting five years ago is still vivid in the mind of Guan Zizhao, now an eighth grader in Beijing. The unforgettable moment happened during a hockey training session at the Wukesong Sports Center in February 2017.

Seeing Xi among the spectators, the youngsters skated toward him and crowded around. Xi leaned forward and greeted Guan by bumping his shoulder, a special greeting for the hockey players.

"Grow a little bit stronger, young man," Xi said to him with a smile.

"It caught me by surprise. It was a gesture of encouragement, as well as love and kindness," Guan recalled.

Beyond Guan's personal feelings, the gesture is a manifestation of the importance Xi attaches to children's physical wellbeing and health, from his instructions on curbing myopia to his advocacy of football and other sports among school children.

A CONVERSATION MADE WITH THUMBS

The entire society should extend compassion and care toward children, particularly orphans and those living with physical disabilities, and make concerted efforts to ensure they grow up healthy and with love, Xi said when visiting a welfare home for children in Hohhot in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on the eve of the 2014 Spring Festival.

Xi encouraged children there to work hard and pursue excellence in their school years. Wang Yani, one of the children onsite, responded with a smile and a bending thumb to show her appreciation.

Xi got the message and continued a conversation with Wang by following her sign language.

Today, Wang is all grown up and works as a teacher in a special education school in Hohhot. The encouragement given by Xi has been a source of strength in her growth.

A MEETING STARTING FROM CORRESPONDENCE

Another expectation Xi places on youngsters is to have patriotism and great ambition.

He read a letter from Macao students in the Premier School Affiliated to Hou Kong Middle School back in 2019. "It is touching. I can feel your patriotism between the lines," said Xi, touched by the youngsters' understanding of "motherland" expressed in the letter.

The president replied to the young students before the International Children's Day on June 1, 2019. Six months later in December, Xi travelled to Macao and had a face-to-face chat with the letter writers.

"Patriotism should be fostered from an early age. I hope you will travel around the country and have a personal experience of our beautiful motherland," Xi told the students.

"I am so excited to receive the reply," said Dang Wing Zi, one of the students who wrote the initial letter. "I will study hard and better serve the country."