Who is Xi Jinping?

Updated: Nov 15, 2012, 18:06 PM IST

Kamna Arora

The ‘princeling’ is all set to take over the reins of the world’s new economic powerhouse. Xi Jinping, who will soon become one of the most powerful people on the planet, will succeed President Hu Jintao in March. The 59-year-old Xi Jinping is the "Fifth Generation" leader, marking a first for China`s post-1949 generation.

Despite all the mystery that shrouds this man, it is a well-known fact that Xi is a basketball lover and is married to a woman who is almost as renowned as him. The 49-year-old Peng Liyuan, China’s First Lady-in-waiting, is a popular folk singer for the People`s Liberation Army. His daughter, Xi Mingze, is reportedly studying at Harvard University in the United States.

The “son of the Yellow Earth” was born in 1953 to Xi Zhongxun, a reformist former vice premier under Zhou Enlai. The senior Xi was later purged from power in 1962, ahead of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. At the age of 15, the younger Xi, who until then was a "princeling" in Zhongnanhai with other children of China`s first generation of leaders, was among 30 million "sent-down youth”, pushed to work in the remote village of Liangjiahe, Shaanxi, for seven years. Later, he went on to study chemical engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Notably, many of the China`s top leaders, including Hu Jintao, have studied in the same university.

Besides having the bright and beautiful wife, the tall Xi has a striking career too. He joined the Communist Party in 1974 and became a local party secretary in Hebei province. He served in more senior roles in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces. And in 2007, he was named party chief of Shanghai, China`s richest city. Later in the year, he was promoted to the party`s Standing Committee. It was in this year only that his wife, in rare public comments, heaped praises upon his staunch dedication to work.

Xi is known to have pro-business views. His 2009 Mexico speech in which he had said that Westerners had no right to criticise China is cited quite often. He had said: "Some foreigners with full bellies and nothing better to do engage in finger-pointing at us. First, China does not export revolution; second, it does not export famine and poverty; and third, it does not mess around with you. So what else is there to say?"

The straight talker faces a number of significant challenges. As far as foreign policies are concerned, his stand on Tibet, Taiwan, South China Sea, India, and the United States is unlikely to be different from his predecessors. Xi will not only have to focus on maintaining economy and GDP growth, but also tackle health issues, curb poverty levels, control rampant corruption, address human rights issues and global warming. Also, preserving social stability is quite important for the leader of a country like China which cannot afford to lose any sort of control over its public. The Fifth Generation leader has 10 years to bring changes, otherwise he should brace himself for huge problems.

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