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AP PHOTOS: Xi's portrait adorns new homes for China's poor

A poster showing an image of Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a wall at a home of members of the Yi minority group in Xujiashan village in...
A poster showing an image of Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen displayed on a wall of a home of members of the Yi minority group in Xujiashan villa...
A minority Yi woman stands inside her house displaying a poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Xujiashan village in Ganluo County, southwest Chin...
Posters showing images of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan are displayed on a wall of a home of members of the Yi minority group ...
A minority woman and a child wave near posters showing images of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan on display on a wall at her hou...
An ethnic minority Yi family rests near posters of Chinese President Xi Jinping in their village house built by the Chinese government in Ganluo count...
A minority Yi woman stands inside her apartment house displaying a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Yuexi County, southwest China's Sichua...
A minority Yi family sits inside their home displaying a poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Xujiashan village in Ganluo County, southwest China...
A Yi ethnic minority member stands inside his house displaying posters of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan, in Xujiashan village ...
A minority Yi woman and her child sit inside her house displaying a poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, in Xujiashan village in Ganluo Count...
Ethnic minority Yi women stand inside their new apartment houses built by the Chinese government in Yuexi county, southwest China's Sichuan province o...
Posters of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan are displayed on a wall with a photo of members of the Yi minority group inside their...
A partially damaged portrait of former leader Mao Zedong is seen inside an abandoned old house belonging to a member of Yi ethnic minority, in Qingshu...

A poster showing an image of Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a wall at a home of members of the Yi minority group in Xujiashan village in...

A poster showing an image of Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen displayed on a wall of a home of members of the Yi minority group in Xujiashan villa...

A minority Yi woman stands inside her house displaying a poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Xujiashan village in Ganluo County, southwest Chin...

Posters showing images of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan are displayed on a wall of a home of members of the Yi minority group ...

A minority woman and a child wave near posters showing images of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan on display on a wall at her hou...

An ethnic minority Yi family rests near posters of Chinese President Xi Jinping in their village house built by the Chinese government in Ganluo count...

A minority Yi woman stands inside her apartment house displaying a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Yuexi County, southwest China's Sichua...

A minority Yi family sits inside their home displaying a poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Xujiashan village in Ganluo County, southwest China...

A Yi ethnic minority member stands inside his house displaying posters of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan, in Xujiashan village ...

A minority Yi woman and her child sit inside her house displaying a poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, in Xujiashan village in Ganluo Count...

Ethnic minority Yi women stand inside their new apartment houses built by the Chinese government in Yuexi county, southwest China's Sichuan province o...

Posters of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan are displayed on a wall with a photo of members of the Yi minority group inside their...

A partially damaged portrait of former leader Mao Zedong is seen inside an abandoned old house belonging to a member of Yi ethnic minority, in Qingshu...

LIANGSHAN, China (AP) — Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s smiling visage looks down from the walls of virtually every home inhabited by members of the Yi minority group in a remote corner of China’s Sichuan province.

Xi has replaced former leader Mao Zedong for pride of place in new brick and concrete houses built to replace crumbling traditional structures in Sichuan’s Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, which is home to about 2 million Yi.

A considerable cult of personality has developed around Xi since he took over the ruling party in 2012. Millions of books containing his speeches have been distributed and an array of items from decorative plates to key chains display his image and that of his glamorous military singer-wife, Peng Liyuan, who also features in some of the posters hung in Yi houses.

Hanging portraits of Chinese leaders in private homes has generally declined since the days of Mao, when a perceived lack of deference to the leader could bring dire consequences. A giant portrait of Mao continues to hang on Beijing’s Tiananmen Gate.

For the Yi, displaying Xi’s portrait may be a decorative choice, brightening whitewashed walls while lacking other options, but it also continues the cultural and political assimilation into the greater Chinese nation that began as early as the Ming Dynasty 400 years ago. The process has accelerated under Communist rule, particularly as China’s leaders seek to impose a single national language, Mandarin, in education and public life, while continuing to portray China as a multiethnic nation made up of 56 groups, the vast majority being Han.

The Yi total 9 million people, spread across Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces in China’s southwest, with some communities also found in Vietnam and Thailand. They speak a language related to Burmese with its own writing system and traditionally practice a form of shamanism, although some are also Buddhist and Christian.


Updated : 2021-01-27 13:10 GMT+08:00