Stepping Up To A New Era Leadership Role

Xi Jinping, who hails from Beijing, is the son of the revered leader and revolutionary hero, Xi Zhongzun of the Communist Party propaganda department and later Vice-Chairman of the National People’s Congress who helped build its base in Shaanxi province. He was 15 when his father was jailed in 1968 during the Cultural Revolution forcing the young Xi to relocate to Yanchuan County, Shaanxi where he worked with the Down to the Countryside Movement.

Growing up in aristocracy in Beijing, Xi Jinping found it a challenge as he tried to familiarize with the new setting he suddenly found himself in. That was the time when he went to live in a small village in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. He looked and sounded different from the people of Liangjiahe, a village in Shaanxi, who are mostly farmers. Life there was tough for Xi where he had to be involved in carrying out all sorts of laborious tasks. By the time Xi left the village some years later, he went with a heart filled with desire and determination to do something for the people there.
In 1975, he enrolled in Tsinghua University, a university which has produced a good number of China’s current leaders including Hu Jintao. There Xi graduated with a degree in chemical engineering and later received a doctoral degree in law from the Institute of Humanities and Social Science of the same university in 2002. Soon after he completed his undergraduate education, Xi worked as a personal secretary to Geng Bio, then Minister of Defence, for 4 years. This gained Xi some knowledge of the military.rowing up in aristocracy in Beijing, Xi Jinping found it a challenge as he tried to familiarize with the new setting he suddenly found himself in. That was the time when he went to live in a small village in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. He looked and sounded different from the people of Liangjiahe, a village in Shaanxi, who are mostly farmers. Life there was tough for Xi where he had to be involved in carrying out all sorts of laborious tasks. By the time Xi left the village some years later, he went with a heart filled with desire and determination to do something for the people there.

His 7 years living in dim, narrow and musty caves of Liangjiahe in absolute run-of-the-mill life had shaped him to become a wiser and stronger leader. “We mustn’t stand high above the masses nor consider the masses as our fish and meat. The hard life of the grass roots can cultivate one’s will. With that kind of experience, whatever difficulties I would encounter in the future, I am fully charged with courage to take on any challenge, to believe in the impossible and to conquer obstacles without panic.”

Xi was always fascinated by politics, resulting from inspiration and influence of his own father. In 1971, he joined the Communist Youth League and later in 1974, the Communist Party of China. In 1982 he was sent to Zhengding County in Hebei as Deputy Secretary to the CPC Zhengding County Committee, and subsequently promoted to Secretary of the CPC Zhengding County Committee in 1983. Xi as served in four provinces during his government and Party career from 1969 to 2007: Shaanxi, Hebei, Fujian and Zhejiang.

In 1987, Xi married the celebrated Chinese singer PengLiyuan. This was his second marriage. Together, they have a daughter named XI Mingze, who is currently studying in Harvard University under an alias.

In 1990, Xi became the president of the Party School in Fuzhou in 1990. Subsequently in 1999, he was promoted to the Deputy Governor of Fujian and became Governor in 2000. In 2002, he took up a senior government and Party post in Zhejiang where he was promoted as party chief and succeeded in securing growth rates averaging 14% per year. Xi came under the microscopic view of China’s top leader through his fight against corrupt officials. Successively, in March 2007, he was elected as the new Party Chief of Shanghai, which demonstrates the Central Government’s confidence in his capability to unite the people and combat endemic corruption.

Xi’s appointment to the Party Secretary post in Shanghai was seen as a stepping stone for him to become an emerging member of the fifth generation of Chinese leadership. This was solidified by his appointment as a member of the nine-man Politburo Standing Committee at the 17th Party Congress in October 2007. Successively, in March 2008, Xi was elected as Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China11th National People’s Congress.

In February 2009, with his new role as Vice-President, Xi journeyed to Latin America, visiting Mexico, Jamaica, Colombia,Venezuela,and Brazil to promote Chinese ties in the region and boost the country’s reputation in the wake of the global financial crisis. Xi has since gone on a series of foreign visits to Belgium, Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, Japan, South Korea, Cambodia and Myanmar to burnish his foreign affairs credentials. He is generally popular with foreign dignitaries, who are titillated by his ingenuousness and pragmatism. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson described Xi as “the kind of guy who knows how to get things over the goal line”.

On 15 November 2012, Vice President Xi was elected to the post of General Secretary of the Communist Partyand Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission by the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, making him the top-ranked leader of the Communist Party of China.

On 14 March 2013, Xi Jinping officially became the President of the People’s Republic of China, pledging for a cleaner and more efficient government in a confirmation vote by the National People’s Congress in Beijing. Bowing after his name was announced, he received 2,952 for, one vote against, and three abstentions. He replaced Hu Jintao, who retired after serving two terms. The Vice President post went to the liberal reformist, Li Yuanchao.

Xi undertakes the leadership of a nation that is growing wealthier but more vocal in its anger at issues such as rising inequity, environmental damage and food safety. He also faces concern among regional neighbors over how China will wield its rising power, particularly in relations to thorny issues such as territorial disputes with Japan and ASEAN nations.

This new leader will try his best to curb social spending and other actions to spread prosperity more evenly and narrow a politically volatile gap between China’s wealthy elite and poor majority. The austerity drive for bureaucracy is an attempt to address rising public anger over perceived luxurious lifestyle of leaders.

With the economic model that brought decades of high growth sputtering, the new government is looking to transform the world’s second-largest economy by nurturing self-sustaining growth based on domestic consumption and technology.

Problems such as corruption and bribe-taking by some party members and cadres, being out of touch with the people, placing undue emphasis on formality and officialdom had to be addressed. Making this his main priority, Xi warned that corruption could lead to “the collapse of the Party and the downfall of the state.”

Over the next few months, China and the rest of the world would be watching closely the developments under Xi’s new leadership. How will Xi lead China’s 1.3 billion people towards realizing the China Dream of an affluent, strong, democratic, civilized and harmonious modern socialist country and what has he in store for China’s due contribution to world peace and development? Xi’s efforts may remain yet to be fully felt but as it is he is already seen as a leader who brings a fresh breeze to the country’s political life with a determination for modern reforms. Xi certainly looks well poised for the take-off as he steps up to this new era leadership role for him.

Issue 1/2013

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