President Xi Jinping's mother has praised her late husband, revolutionary hero Xi Zhongxun , in a lengthy article carried by state media, attesting to his influence on the couple's children and his devotion to the Communist Party and economic reforms.
Such a personal statement by a high-profile figure is rare in mainland politics, and political analysts said it would help shore up support for the president among powerful revolution-era families.
The People's Daily devoted a full page to the article, which is more than 10,000 characters in length.
There have been several events held across the nation over the past week to commemorate the birth of Xi Zhongxun, including one at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Tuesday.
Xi Jinping is the first leader of communist China to have come from the "princeling" class.
In her article, Qi Xin portrayed the family as adopting a frugal and austere lifestyle. Throughout his childhood, Xi Jinping often wore the shoes of his two elder sisters. His father dyed the shoes for Xi so they did not appear girlish, Qi said.
The article also quoted a letter from Xi Jinping to his father in 2001, when he was the governor of Fujian and was too busy to attend his father's 88th birthday celebration.
In the letter, Xi Jinping vowed to learn from his father's honest and tolerant character and his loyalty to the Communist Party.
"This letter is not only an expression of how Jinping, as a child, felt about his father, but it is also a promise by the offspring of a revolutionary to adhere to the spirit of the ancestors," Qi said.
Commentators said the letter was aimed at putting a human touch on Xi's image.
"By disclosing these details, Qi Xin is helping to increase Xi Jinping's charisma to the masses and further strengthen his power base," said Zhu Xueqin, a professor of history at Shanghai University.
Qi sidestepped the political differences between Xi senior and other prominent leaders of his time, to focus instead on striking a tone of reconciliation.
Qi avoided mention of Mao Zedong's role in initiating the series of internal party struggles in the 1960s that saw her husband purged and persecuted for most of the Cultural Revolution.
Neither did she mention the years after the fall of liberal leader Hu Yaobang in 1988. Hu was swept aside by Deng Xiaoping , although Xi senior continued to support Hu.
Instead, she cited comments by Mao praising the elder Xi's peaceful resolution of a Tibetan uprising in Qinghai .
Qi also highlighted the help the family received from other party leaders during the years when Xi senior was purged. The article stressed how Xi senior won support from Deng Xiaoping and spearheaded the special economic zones in the late 1970s.
"This echoes Xi Jinping's previous remarks on the continuity of communist China's history since 1949, namely no break between the first and the second 30 years. Defending Mao's legacy is in the interest of the princelings," said Zhang Lifan , a political affairs analyst in Beijing.