A role model for the ages

By Xu Fan(China Daily)Updated: 2021-06-28

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Li Xuejian, an award-winning actor, talks to China Daily at a hotel near his home in northern Beijing.[Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

Whether it's the story of a modern-day photographer, an ancient warrior or the life of a Party hero, highly decorated actor Li Xuejian continues to promote Chinese culture and values through his on-screen performances, Xu Fan reports.

On March 8, the International Women's Day, in 1975, Li Xuejian, then serving as a soldier of the Chinese rocket force stationed in Southwest China's Yunnan province, had a special gift for his mother.

He sent a telegram, with the message containing merely one sentence, "Mom, I have just officially joined the Communist Party of China."

Nearly half a century on, Li, now widely regarded as one of the most influential stars of his era and the recipient of more than 30 acting awards, still clearly remembers most details of that day, ranging from how he took the Party admission oath in a shabby room to murmuring the uplifting song The Internationale with the track played on a small radio.

Wrapped up in a faded jacket with a badge of China's national flag, Li recently talked to China Daily in a hotel near his home in Huilongguan area in northern Beijing.

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Still images featuring Li Xuejian as the lead actor in the films Jiao Yulu.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Wishing to breathe fresh air after his successful battle with nasopharynx cancer, Li moved to the area from downtown Beijing more than 10 years ago, when it was a much smaller community.

"Over recent decades, I prefer to wear badges symbolizing our country or the Party, which remind me to stick to my faith and always be a good man," says Li.

Born in 1954 in East China's Shandong province, in 1977 Li started work in the art troupe of People's Liberation Army Air Force. With his vivid incarnation of Lin Biao in the modern drama Jiu Yi San Shi Jian (The Sept 13 Incident) in 1980, Li won a Plum Performance Award, one of the country's highest stage show honors, earning him overnight popularity.

With the hit TV series Ke Wang (Yearning) in 1990, Li accumulated greater popularity, bagging the award for best supporting actor at the 11th Flying Apsaras Award and for best actor at the 9th China TV Golden Eagle Awards, both prestigious domestic honors in the television sector.

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