Pictures of Peking University president Zhou Qifeng (周其凤) kneeling before his ageing mother on the occasion of her 90th birthday went viral on the Chinese interwebs over the weekend.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst-trained chemist returned back to his hometown in Hunan’s Shangbu village unannounced to attend his mother’s birthday celebrations. There was nary a dry eye at the party when Zhou appeared, kneeling in front of his mother, and the two hugged and burst into tears.
Zhou Jirui, the village mayor who was present at the celebrations, said the scene was one that he would remember for the rest of his life. “He knelt in front of his mother for a full 10 minutes,” he said. “Many of the villagers who were there could not help but cry at this touching scene.”
Born in 1947 in the then-impoverished village, Zhou’s father died at an early age, and his mother had to single-handedly bring him and his three brothers up.
Once, when the family had no money to pay for his school fees, Zhou decided to take his mother’s bronze flask to school as collateral payment, so the story goes. When his mother found out her flask had disappeared and came running after him, Zhou threw the flask into the river in a fluster. She eventually retrieved the flask from the river and borrowed money to pay for his fees.
On another occasion, Zhou returned home from school to find his mother severely ill. When his younger brother blamed him for his mother’s illness, saying she had fallen sick because of his school fees, he went out into the woods crying, and was only found much later by a search team of villagers who lit their torches and clanged cymbals at the request of his mother.
Prior to becoming president of Peking University in 2008, Zhou served as president of Jilin University for a term of five years.
Photos from Yahoo China.