What do we know about Xi Jinping, China's new leader?

Nov 15, 2012

The charismatic Communist 'Princeling' appears to be a mass of contradictions

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

XI JINPING  - pronounced Shee Chin Ping - has been installed as the new leader of China and will rule the world's most populous country for the next ten years. But who is he and what can the West expect from him?

 The 59-year-old, who was anointed as head of the Communist Party in Beijing today, is a so-called 'Princeling', the son of one of the original Chinese communist revolutionaries.
But although he grew up in the relative luxury of Zhongnanhai, the party's walled compound in Beijing, he also experienced extreme poverty after his father, Xi Zhongxun, fell out with Chairman Mao in 1962, and the young Xi was exiled to the country where he lived among peasants for seven years.
The contradictions of his childhood appear to have continued into adulthood. He rose slowly though the party ranks and is regarded as a "cautious reformer" but has also been accused of "zealous persecution" of dissidents when he was governor of Zhejiang in 2002 by human rights groups.
He is seen as a charismatic and open leader but, according to The Daily Telegraph, Xi "has been opaque about his beliefs or policies, whether economic or political".
Whatever his leadership brings, Xi is likely to be more memorable to Western observers than his anonymous predecessor, Hu Jintao.
"Standing over 6ft tall, he is confident and affable," says The Guardian. "He boasts a ready smile and a glamorous second wife – the renowned People's Liberation Army singer Peng Liyuan. He has expressed his fondness for US war movies and, perhaps more surprisingly, praised the edgy independent film-maker Jia Zhangke."
Sky News even predicts that his current wife, who is "more famous than he is", will be "far more of an American-style first lady" than any of those who have gone before.
Xi has a daughter who is studying at Havard. He has also travelled widely in the West. His first wife lives in London.
But while’s well travelled, he does not always like what he sees of the world beyond his borders. The Guardian notes that his "most-quoted remark to date" came during a trip to Mexico in 2009.
"There are some well-fed foreigners who have nothing better to do than point fingers at our affairs," he announced. "China does not, first, export revolution; second, export poverty and hunger; third, cause troubles for you. What else is there to say?"
Xi will head up a ruling elite of seven men, but only he and his colleague Li Keqiang will serve more than one five-year term.
The FT reports: "Along with the fact that he has been given command of the military and a smaller core leadership team to work with, the term limits for most of his colleagues should give Mr Xi more authority to implement his own policy agenda."
The problem appears to be that no-one is yet sure of his agenda.

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He looks like a plastic gangster. Are his children already driving Lamborghinis or does he have that conspicuous consumption under control already? Communist, my Mafia ass.

sorry to point out that LI Yuanchao should have been Li Keqiang since the former is not one of the seven.

Many thanks... the change has been made..