Xi Jinping: most powerful Chinese leader since Mao

Chinese Leaders Attend Flower-basket-laying Ceremony To Mark The 64th National Day

18 October 2015 update: Chinese President Xi Jinping starts a five-day visit to UK from Tuesday. The state visit is the first from China in 10 years – since 2005.

25 September 2015 update: Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting USA to meet businesses in Seattle and President Obama in Washington DC.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Pakistan on a two-day visit. A fleet of eight JF-17 Thunder fighter jets receives him. Xi signed energy and infrastructure projects worth $46 billion including China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Gwadar projects.

So, who’s Xi Jinping?

Xi Jinping China Forbes

In Forbes magazine’s 2014 list of The World’s Most Powerful People, Xi is at #3, after Russia’s Putin (#1) and USA’s Obama (#2).

Forbes writes: Xi Jinping holds all three offices required to be China’s paramount leader, and after two years in office has become what some have called the most powerful Chinese ruler since Mao Zedong.

In October he took the additional title as chief of the world’s largest economy, valued at $17.6 trillion. Xi was quick to see the benefits of privatization-friendly reforms and further signs of fresh thinking are everywhere.

He has a surprisingly assertive public profile, even allowing the state media to publish a day-in-the-life account of his workday.

Xi has fought harder than his predecessors against corruption and in favor of greater economic and security alliances.

Xi Jinping

BBC calls Xi Jinpinga a princeling who ‘owns’ China.

According to BBC:

Before President Xi Jinping came to power, some questioned whether he would be able to rule effectively. At the time, the Communist Party appeared to be paralysed by infighting.

But that did not hinder Xi Jinping. He seized his position at the top of China’s ruling Communist Party with gusto.

In a year, the confident Mr Xi has made remarkable strides. He is sitting at the forefront of the country’s most ambitious economic and social reform plan in decades.

China also has a new vision in the form of Mr Xi’s “China dream“, the idea that Chinese citizens can attain national glory if they work as a collective. A campaign to eliminate government waste and bureaucracy makes daily headlines.

So far, 40,000 government officials have been disciplined for graft violations. A further 10,000 have been fired from their jobs, allowing the government to recoup $65 billion in illicit funds.

Many of those officials are “flies”, low-ranking officials with little power. But several “tigers”, high-ranking party chiefs, have also fallen under the campaign.

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The speed at which Xi Jinping accumulated power and the ease at which he uses it can be traced to his political pedigree, Cheng Li explains. The president is a “princeling”, the son of one of the Communist Party’s founding members.

“A princeling has a sense of ownership of the country,” Mr Cheng says of Mr Xi and his closest allies. “Both Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, the leaders who led China for the past 10 years, came from humble family backgrounds.”

They were seen as managers, but the “owners” of the system find it easier to fix some of the country’s problems, Mr Cheng believes. For example, they have close ties with the people who run China’s all-powerful state-owned corporations.

“So they can force their own people to surrender some of the power and therefore open China’s economic system and thus promote China’s economic reform.”

Xi Jinping's CV

Xi Jinping: Highlights

  • Born in Beijing in 1953, father was Xi Zhongxun, a founding member of the Communist Party
  • Sent to work at a remote village for seven years when he was 15
  • Studied chemical engineering at Tsinghua University and spent time at a US farm in 1985
  • Was Shanghai party chief in 2007 and became vice-president in 2008
  • Seen as having a zero-tolerance attitude towards corrupt officials
  • Married to well-known Chinese folk singer and actress Peng Liyuan with whom he has a daughter
  • Update: In September 2015, Xi visits USA as State Guest
  • VIDEO: Xi Jinping: From Iowa visitor in 1985 to White House guest

Foreign Policy magazine this month headlined: Xi Jinping Forever

Brookings called him One of China’s Top Future Leaders to Watch.

The Economist headlined: The rise and rise of Xi Jinping

CNN called Xi Jinping From ‘sent-down youth’ to China’s top.

Xi Jinping’s brief CV can be seen here.

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