A million grass-roots cadres and Communist Party members received a surprise gift this new year - a personal text message from Vice-President Xi Jinping . The new year's greeting was sent out on Tuesday afternoon on a new system designed to send blanket messages to the party's core base, the Qianjiang Evening News reported. 'On behalf of the central party, I pass on dear greetings to all grass-roots party organisation secretaries, university students and village officials,' the message said, followed by a simple signature of Xi's name. The message is a sign of the central leadership's continuing efforts to reconnect with its lower echelons in the face of mounting social tensions nationwide. It also demonstrates efforts to drag the notoriously bureaucratic Communist Party - the world's largest political party - into the modern communication era. The unusual move appears to have taken many party insiders by surprise, with the Hangzhou-based paper reporting that some initially suspected it to be a holiday prank. 'If other district secretaries hadn't received this SMS as well, then I really wouldn't dare to believe that this kindly worded text message was truly written by Xi Jinping, vice-president of the nation,' the paper quoted local district secretary Sun Weiping as saying. Another cadre, Gu Yun, told the paper it was 'truly warming' to receive a message directly from the leadership in Beijing 'in the freezing cold of winter'. The unusual move may also have been an effort by Xi to boost his personal standing within the party. Xi is widely tipped to succeed President Hu Jintao when his heir is picked at the next Party Congress in 2012, though questions remain after Xi was not named vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission at a September meeting of party leaders.