US-China tech war: who is the ‘virtuous’ man Xi Jinping says is a model for other businesspeople?
- Learn from Zhang Jian, Xi says at a museum founded by the Qing dynasty entrepreneur
- Trip comes as China tries to accelerate hi-tech development and sustain economic growth
It also comes after the Chinese leader highlighted the need for entrepreneurs to be loyal to the party.
On a trip to a Nantong in the eastern province of Jiangsu on Thursday afternoon, Xi described the late entrepreneur Zhang Jian – also known as Chang Chien – as a model for others, according to state news agency Xinhua.
“He was a virtuous man from a previous era and a model for Chinese entrepreneurs,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.
He made the comments at Nantong Museum, which Zhang founded in 1905.
Zhang founded some of China’s earliest light industries including a cotton mill and a conglomerate to develop the port of Nantong and was briefly a commerce minister in the early days of the Republic of China. He was best known for promoting the idea that businesses could be used to save the country.
Xi called for Chinese entrepreneurs to learn from the way Zhang helped the nation through his businesses and education and social welfare institutes, Xinhua reported.
He said the museum, one of the oldest in the country, should become a centre for patriotic education, especially to strengthen confidence among young people in China’s socialist system, values and culture.
The public activities of state leaders are often choreographed to send a political message to the public. Xi’s trip comes as the party aims to accelerate hi-tech development and sustain economic growth amid a trade and technology war with the United States, while at the same time trying to extend its influence over businesspeople.
In a conference in mid-September, Xi highlighted the importance of entrepreneurs to be loyal to the party.
He ordered the United Front Work Department – the division responsible for projecting the party’s influence at home and abroad – and state-backed industry federations to unite the private sector around the party and rally them to make contributions to the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.
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Sun was detained by authorities after allegedly “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” in relation to a land dispute with a state-run farm.
Zhang, who died in 1926, founded several institutes of higher learning, including Fudan University in Shanghai and Nantong University.
The party touted him as a symbol of how entrepreneurs helped the country industrialise.
According to state media, late leader Mao Zedong said: “We cannot forget [the achievement of] Zhang Jian from Haimen [in Nantong] when we talk about the development of light industry.”