Chinese leaders' passion for sports

Updated: 2014-03-28 11:19

From former Chinese leaders to President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang nowadays, an enthusiasm for and participation in sport has helped make them appear more accessible.

Current President Xi used to enjoy playing football and volleyball as a younger man and still finds time in a busy schedule to take part in swimming and mountaineering. He has publicly expressed his support for China's national football team and said it is the unpredictable nature of sport that attracts him.

   Xi on the ball when it comes to sport

Chinese leaders' passion for sports

High hopes on football development

China should focus more on developing and promoting soccer among youth, President Xi Jinping said after he took time out from his first state visit to Europe to watch the Sino-German Junior Football Friendship Match in Berlin Stadium on March 29, 2014. >>>

Leader's love of football scores high

Chinese President Xi Jinping's interest in soccer and concerns about the sport's development have helped him forge a man-of-the-people style that connects with the public. >>>

Chinese leaders' passion for sports
Chinese leaders' passion for sports

Interest in sports helps relations

Chinese leaders' interest and even participation in sports has emerged as a way to strengthen relations between China and other countries. >>>

More photos on Xi's knots with sports

   Xi's comments on Chinese football

March 22, 2014

March 5, 2014

February 7, 2014

September 2013

"Youth is key to China's football, as late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said, but it takes time to gain results …" Xi also wishes China and the Netherlands have more exchanges and cooperation in youth players' training.

—— Xi talked about youth football with Edwin van der Sar, former Netherlands' national team goalkeeper, at the state banquet during his visit.

"China's football dream looks far away but we cannot stop. You might have your dreams come true one day only if you keep dreaming."

—— Xi used Chinese football as an example of pursuing dreams when he joined a panel discussion with deputies from Shanghai at China's two sessions.

"As you are in charge of the Chinese Football Association, let's wait and see (how the Chinese football will go)."

—— Xi talked to China's newly-elected CFA head Cai Zhenhua and expressed his interest in the development of China's three big ball games – football, basketball and volleyball - when he met Chinese winter Olympians during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

"I hope both our national teams (China and Indonesia) will make it to the World Cup finals in the near future. Football's charm comes from its unpredictability and it is all about cooperation … that's one of the reasons I like it so much."

—— Xi talked about his opinion of football when asked to predict Chinese and Indonesian performances in the qualifying campaign for the 2015 Asian Cup during an interview before his 2013 Southeast Asian trip.

June 6, 2013

March 3, 2013

July 4, 2011

October 15, 2009

"I am a football fan. The Chinese football team has always been working hard, but has only made it to the World Cup finals once. The coach who led China to achieve the record was the one who has also coached the Mexican national soccer team - Serbian coach Bora Milutinovic."

—— Xi recalled his love to football and an old acquaintance of the two countries in his speech addressing the Mexican Senate during his state visit to Mexico.

"I am a sports lover, and I often take part in swimming and mountaineering activities. I enjoyed playing football and volleyball when I was young." Xi also wished the Brazilian national football team good luck for the 2014 FIFA World Cup on home soil.

—— Xi sent his wishes when answering a Brazilian reporter during a joint interview ahead of his departure for the 2013 BRICS summit in South Africa.

Xi upholds China's World Cup dreams as he had three wishes for the Chinese national team: "To qualify for another World Cup, to host a World Cup and to win a World Cup."

—— Then Vice-President Xi expressed his "three wishes" for Chinese football after receiving a football autographed by South Korean star Park Ji-sung during his meeting with Sohn Hak-kyu, South Korea's main opposition Democratic Party leader.

"The level of Chinese football is relatively low, but there's a huge football fan base and a potential football market in China. After wining so many gold medals in other sports at the Beijing Games, China is determined to make its football go to the top level. But this might take a long time."

—— Then Vice-President Xi Jinping was given a Bayer Leverkusen jersey with his name on and a 2006 World Cup football as gifts when visiting Bayer company during his official visit to Germany.

Chinese leaders' passion for sports

 Chinese leaders interest in sports

Chinese leaders' passion for sports

Chinese leaders' passion for sports

Hu Jintao

Former President Hu showcased his table tennis skills at an exhibition game against Japanese star player Fukuhara Ai at Waseda University in Tokyo during the opening ceremony of
Japan-China Friendly Exchange Year of Youth in 2008.  >>>

Jiang Zemin

Former President Jiang plays table tennis at the national table tennis team's training center in Beijing, Jan 28, 1990. Jiang also likes swimming.  >>>

Chinese leaders' passion for sports

Chinese leaders' passion for sports

Deng Xiaoping

Former Chinese leader Deng loved playing bridge and billiards,
and swimming. "My father is a football fan," said the daughter of
then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. 

Mao Zedong

Chairman Mao was a keen swimmer, who took dips in the Yangtze River 17 times between 1955 and 1965. Mao also swam in the Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea, Yangtze River and Xiangjiang River.  >>>

More photos on Chinese leaders' passion for sports


 China's sports diplomacy in review

Chinese leaders' passion for sports

Tai chi interaction

Chinese leaders' passion for sports

Basketball diplomacy

Chinese leaders' passion for sports


Chinese leaders' passion for sports

Ping-pong diplomacy

Tai chi chuan, as a traditional Chinese martial art practised for its defense training and health benefits, attracted US first lady Michelle Obama to try her hand during her visit in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Attending sports events has been a popular activity on the schedule of leaders' overseas tours. >>> The basketball, with Obama's autograph, was a gift from the US president to then Vice-Premier Wang Qishan. It was viewed by the Chinese delegation as a symbol of the US government's hospitality and its gratitude to Chinese officials for agreeing to host the next China-US dialogue in Beijing. >>> Then Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda visited China in December 2007 in return to then Premier Wen Jiabao's "ice-thawing" trip. During the "spring-herald" visit, Wen played baseball with Fukuda, following a "heart-to-heart" talks in which they foresaw a coming spring of the China-Japan ties. >>> In 1971, nine US table tennis players attending the Nagoya World Table Tennis Championship in Japan were invited by the Chinese delegation to visit Beijing to play with their Chinese counterparts. This was a significant step made by China to reestablish contacts between the two countries. >>>


   World leaders enjoy sports games

Chinese leaders' passion for sports

Chinese leaders' passion for sports

Chinese leaders' passion for sports

Chinese leaders' passion for sports

Cameron shows ping-pong skills

World leaders root for football

Putin shows off judo combats

Obama plays ping-pong


Most Popular