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Chinese Wisdom in Xi's Words: 'Scraping poison off the bone'

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-01-19 22:15
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BEIJING - "Scraping poison off the bone" is a powerful allusion Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, has used in his speeches on tightening Party discipline and fighting corruption, and it shows his resolve to advance the self-reform of the Party.

The idiom came from the story of Guan Yu, a general during China's late Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) who was known for his bravery and skill in battle. The story said that when Guan was once wounded by a poisonous arrow in battle, he had a doctor treat his wound by cutting open the flesh without anesthesia and scraping the poison from the bone.

Xi referred to the idiom in his speech at a plenary session of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the country's top anti-graft body, in early 2014. He said the whole Party should demonstrate the courage to scrape poison from the bone in carrying the anti-corruption campaign through to the end.

In a report Xi delivered at the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017, he made the same allusion as he emphasized the importance of retaining a tough stance on corruption. He said to Party members, "We must have the courage to face problems squarely, brace for the pain of scraping poison off the bone, act to remove whatever undermines the Party's purity and advanced nature, and rid ourselves of any virus that erodes the Party's health."

Xi again made the reference in a speech at a meeting on a Party-wide education campaign in 2020. He said a strong party is forged through self-reform. "Looking back at our Party's history, while it led social reform, it always retained the courage to reform itself, to uphold truth and correct errors, to confront problems directly and overcome shortcomings, and to go through the painful process of scraping poison off the bone and removing the rot to heal quickly."

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