Xi Jinping (pinyin: Xí Jìnpíng, pronounced [ɕǐ tɕînpʰǐŋ], born 15 June 1953) is the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, the President of the People's Republic of China, and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission. As Xi holds the top offices of the party, state, and military, he is sometimes informally referred to as China's "paramount leader". As General Secretary, Xi is also an ex officio member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee, China's de facto top decision-making body.
Son of communist veteran Xi Zhongxun, Xi Jinping rose through the ranks politically in China's coastal provinces. He served as the Governor of Fujian between 1999 and 2002, then as Governor and CPC party chief of the neighboring Zhejiang between 2002 and 2007. Following the dismissal of Chen Liangyu, Xi was transferred to Shanghai as the party secretary for a brief period in 2007. Xi was promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee and Central Secretariat in October 2007 and was groomed to become Hu Jintao's successor.
Xi is now the leader of the People's Republic's fifth generation of leadership. He has called for a renewed campaign against corruption, further market economic reforms, an open approach to governance, and a comprehensive national renewal under the neologism "Chinese Dream".
Jinping was born on 15 June 1953 in Beijing. His father, Xi Zhongxun (1913–2002), was a Communist revolutionary figure. After the founding of the Communist state in 1949, Xi's father held a series of posts, including propaganda chief, Vice-Premier, and Vice-Chairman of the National People's Congress. Xi's father is from Fuping County, Shaanxi, and Xi could further trace his patrilineal descent from Xiying in Dengzhou, Henan. He is the second son of Xi Zhongxun and his wife Qi Xin.
When Xi was 10, his father was purged and sent to work in a factory in Luoyang, Henan. In May 1966, Xi's secondary education was cut short by the Cultural Revolution, when all secondary classes were halted for students to criticise and fight their teachers. Xi was 15 when his father was jailed in 1968 during the Cultural Revolution. Without the protection of his father, Xi went to work in Yanchuan County, Shaanxi, in 1969 in Mao Zedong's Down to the Countryside Movement. He later became the Party branch secretary of the production team. When he left in 1975, he was only 22 years old. When asked about this experience later by state television, Xi recalled it saying, "It was emotional. It was a mood. And when the ideals of the Cultural Revolution could not be realised, it proved an illusion."
From 1975 to 1979, Xi studied chemical engineering at Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University as a "Worker, Peasant, PLA" student (gongnongbing xuesheng). In 1975, education was more political and practical than professional, and Tsinghua University "was no longer so much a centre of learning, but functioned as a liaison office, where science and engineering majors spent 80% of their time on learning practical subjects and working in factories, 15% of their time studying Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong thought and 5% of their time doing farm work and "learning from the People's Liberation Army". Commenting on the quality of this education, Joseph Fewsmith wrote; "it was probably a decent education, but not as good as he would have received prior to, much less after, the Cultural Revolution". From 1998 to 2002, he studied Marxist philosophy and ideological education in an "on-the-job" post-graduate programme at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, again at Tsinghua University, and obtained a Doctor of Law (LLD) degree. However commentators have questioned this qualification, pointing out a series of problems with it. The Sunday Times of London commissioned scholars to read the unpublished PhD thesis who noted that the content has little to do with law, appears to contain no original research and reads like a collection of quotes from existing published works. The writer Joe Chung compared Xi’s works with those of other scholars and found that numerous passages had been copied from previously published works or works published around the same time as Xi’s. In one case, citations were shown to have been copied from another work, including misspellings and punctuation errors in that previously published work. Based on this research, Chung raised the question of whether Xi plagiarised his PhD. The Sunday Times article also noted the poor esteem of his previous qualifications and speculated that the PhD was invented by a committee in order to improve Xi’s public image.
From 1979 to 1982, Xi served as secretary for his father's former subordinate Geng Biao, the then vice premier and Secretary-General of the Central Military Commission. This gained Xi some military background. In 1985, as part of a Chinese delegation to study American agriculture, he visited the town of Muscatine, Iowa.
Rise to powerEdit
Xi joined the Communist Youth League in 1971 and the Communist Party of China in 1974. In 1982, he was sent to Zhengding County in Hebei as Deputy Secretary to the CPC Zhengding County Committee, and was promoted in 1983 to Secretary of the CPC Zhengding County Committee. Xi subsequently served in four provinces during his political career: Shaanxi (during the Cultural Revolution, 1969–1975), Hebei (1982–1985), Fujian (1985–2002), and Zhejiang (2002–2007).
Xi held Party positions in the CPC Fuzhou Municipal Committee, and became the president of the Party School in Fuzhou in 1990. In 1999, he was promoted to the Deputy Governor of Fujian, then became Governor a year later. While there, he made efforts to attract investment from Taiwan and to boost free market economy. In February 2000, he and provincial Party Secretary Chen Mingyi were called before the top four members of the Party Central Politburo Standing Committee – General Secretary Jiang Zemin, Premier Zhu Rongji, Vice-President Hu Jintao and Discipline Inspection secretary Wei Jianxing to explain aspects of the Yuanhua scandal.
In 2002, Xi took up senior government and Party positions in Zhejiang, and eventually took over as party chief after several months as acting Governor, becoming the first-in-charge in the province. Xi was then made an alternate member of the 15th CPC Central Committee and holds the membership of the 16th CPC Central Committee, marking his ascension to the national stage. While in Zhejiang, Xi provided the economic environment which secured growth rates averaging 14% per year. His career in Zhejiang was marked by tough and straightforward stance against corrupt officials, which earned him a name on the national media and drew the attention of China's top leaders.
Following the dismissal of Shanghai Party Chief Chen Liangyu in September 2006 due to a social security fund scandal, Xi was transferred to Shanghai in March 2007 to become the new Party Chief of Shanghai. Xi's appointment to one of the most important regional posts in China was clearly a sign of confidence from the Central Government. While in Shanghai he was careful not to touch any controversial issues while largely echoing the line of the central leadership. Xi's career is notable in that during his regional tenures, he was never implicated in any serious scandals, nor did he face serious political opposition.
Politburo Standing Committee memberEdit
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. Xi was appointed to the nine-man Politburo Standing Committee at the 17th Party Congress in October 2007. Xi was ranked above Li Keqiang, an indication that he was going to succeed Hu Jintao as China's next leader. In addition, Xi also held the top-ranking membership of the Communist Party's Central Secretariat. This assessment was further supported at the 11th National People's Congress in March 2008, when Xi was elected as Vice-President of the People's Republic of China. Some suggest Xi's elevation was because Xi had kept friendly relations with both Hu Jintao and the other power figure in the central leadership, Zeng Qinghong.
Following his elevation, Xi has held a broad range of portfolios. He was put in charge of the comprehensive preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, as well as being the central government's leading figure in Hong Kong and Macau affairs. In addition, he also became the new President of the Central Party School, the cadre-training and ideological education wing of the Communist Party. In the wake of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, Xi visited disaster areas in Shaanxi and Gansu. Xi made his first foreign trip as Vice President to North Korea, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Yemen from 17 to 25 June 2008. After the Olympics, Xi was assigned the post of Committee Chair for the preparations of the 60th Anniversary Celebrations of the founding of the People's Republic of China. He was also reportedly at the helm of a top-level Communist Party committee dubbed the 6521 Project, which was charged with ensuring social stability during a series of political sensitive anniversaries in 2009.
Xi is considered to be one of the most successful members of the Crown Prince Party, a quasi-clique of politicians who are descendants of early Chinese Communist revolutionaries. At the time, Senior leaders considered Xi to be an emerging figure that is open to serious dialogue about deep-seated market economic reforms and even political reform, although Xi's personal political views were mostly unknown to the outside world. He had a reputation of being popular with foreign dignitaries, who are intrigued by his openness and pragmatism. Former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, when asked about Xi, said he felt he was "a thoughtful man who has gone through many trials and tribulations." Lee also commented: "I would put him in the Nelson Mandela class of persons. A person with enormous emotional stability who does not allow his personal misfortunes or sufferings affect his judgment. In other words, he is impressive". Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson described Xi as "the kind of guy who knows how to get things over the goal line." Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that Xi "has sufficient reformist, party and military background to be very much his own man."
In February 2009, in his capacity as Vice-President, Xi Jinping embarked on a tour of 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. He also visited Valletta, Malta, before returning to China.
On 11 February, while visiting Mexico, Xi spoke in front of a group of overseas Chinese and explained China's contributions to the financial crisis, saying that it was "the greatest contribution towards the whole of human race, made by China, to prevent its 1.3 billion people from hunger". He followed with a rather direct accusation for "foreigners" trying to interfere in Chinese affairs, a subject that has always been sensitive in Chinese political circles. In Chinese, Xi remarked: "There are some bored foreigners, with full stomachs, who have nothing better to do than point fingers at us [China]. First, China doesn't export revolution; second, China doesn't export hunger and poverty; third, China doesn't come and cause you headaches, what more is there to be said?". The story was reported on some local television stations. The news led to a flood of discussions on Chinese internet forums. It was reported that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs was caught off-guard by Xi's non-diplomatic remarks, as the actual video was shot by some accompanying Hong Kong reporters and broadcast on Hong Kong TV, which then turned up in various internet video websites.
Xi continued his international trips, some say to burnish his foreign affairs credentials prior to taking the helm of China's leadership. Xi visited Belgium, Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania from 7 to 21 October 2009. Xi visited Japan, South Korea, Cambodia and Myanmar on his Asian trip from 14 to 22 December 2009. Xi made a state visit to South Korea in July, 2014.
Xi visited the United States, Ireland and Turkey in February 2012. The visit included meeting with U.S President Barack Obama at the White House and Vice President Joe Biden, with whom he had met extensively in China in August 2011; and stops in California and Iowa, where he met with the family which previously hosted him during his 1985 tour as a Hebei provincial official.
2009 CMC conferenceEdit
In September 2009, at the Fourth Plenum of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping was not selected as the Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) as expected, raising some questions about his succession. Political analyst Cheng Li believed that Xi's failure to secure the CMC promotion was evidence that the Communist Party was developing internal checks and balances, giving way to more sophisticated mechanisms for leadership succession. Xi was officially appointed to the vice-chairmanship on 18 October 2010, a position Hu Jintao once held back in 1999 before taking over the secretaryship and the presidency years later. By 2010, it appeared to be clear that Xi would succeed Hu as General Secretary and President in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Leader of ChinaEdit
Accession to top postsEdit
On 15 November 2012, Xi Jinping was elected to the post of General Secretary of the Communist Party and Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission by the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, making him – informally – the paramount leader of the Communist Party of China. On the following day, Xi led the new line-up of the Politburo Standing Committee onto the stage in their first public appearance. The new Standing Committee decreased its number of seats from nine to seven, with only Xi himself and Li Keqiang retaining their seats from the previous Standing Committee; the remaining members were new. In a marked departure from the common practice of Chinese leaders, Xi's first speech as General Secretary was plainly worded and did not include any political slogans or mention of his predecessors. Xi mentioned the aspirations of the average person, remarking, "Our people [...] expect better education, more stable jobs, better income, more reliable social security, medical care of a higher standard, more comfortable living conditions, and a more beautiful environment." Xi also vowed to tackle corruption at the highest levels, alluding that it would threaten the Party's survival; he was reticent about far-reaching economic reforms.
In December 2012, Xi visited Guangdong in his first trip outside of Beijing since taking the Party leadership. The overarching theme of the trip was to call for further economic reform and a strengthened military. Xi paid tribute to the statue of Deng Xiaoping and his trip was described as following in the footsteps of Deng's own southern trip in 1992, which provided the impetus for further economic reforms in China after conservative party leaders stalled many of Deng's reforms in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Xi also visited the Haikou destroyer, which had been patrolling the South China Sea, and also gave a speech to the Guangzhou military region. On his trip, Xi consistently alluded to his signature slogan the "Chinese Dream." "This dream can be said to be the dream of a strong nation. And for the military, it is a dream of a strong military", Xi told sailors. Xi's trip was significant in that he departed from established convention of Chinese leaders' travel routine in multiple ways. Rather than dining out, Xi and his entourage ate regular hotel buffet. His traveled in a large van with his colleagues rather than a fleet of limousines, and did not restrict traffic on the parts of the highway he traveled on.
Xi was elected President of the People's Republic of China on 14 March 2013, in a confirmation vote by the 12th National People's Congress in Beijing. He received 2,952 for, one vote against, and three abstentions. He replaced Hu Jintao, who retired after serving two terms. Although the presidency is officially a ceremonial post, in recent years it has become customary for the general secretary to assume the presidency as confirmation of his rise to power.
The liberal reformer Li Yuanchao was elected as Vice President in a 2839 to 80 vote, becoming the first vice-president not to be a member of the Politburo Standing Committee since Rong Yiren in 1998.
In his new capacity as President, on 16 March Xi expressed support for noninterference in China–Sri Lanka relations amid a United Nations Security Council vote to condemn that country over government abuses during the Sri Lankan Civil War.
On 17 March, Xi and his new ministers arranged a meeting with the chief executive of Hong Kong, CY Leung, confirming his support for Leung. Within hours of his election, Xi discussed cyber security and North Korea with U.S. President Barack Obama over the phone, who announced the visits of Treasury and State secretaries Jacob Lew and John F. Kerry to China on the following week.
Xi also affirmed China's commitment to continued good relations with Pakistan. Within a week of his assuming the Presidency, Xi embarked on a trip to Russia, Tanzania, South Africa, and Republic of Congo.
In November 2013, at the conclusion of the Third Plenum of the 18th Party Congress, the Communist Party delivered a far-reaching reform agenda that alluded to changes in both economic and social policy. Xi signaled at the plenum that he was consolidating control by reining in the massive internal security organization that was formerly the domain of Zhou Yongkang. A new National Security Commission was formed with Xi Jinping at its helm. The Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms – another ad-hoc policy coordination body led by Xi – was also formed to oversee the implementation of the reform agenda.
The reforms, termed "comprehensive deepening reforms" (quanmian shenhua gaige) were said to be the most significant since Deng Xiaoping's 1992 "Southern Tour". In the economic realm, the Plenum announced that "market forces" would begin to play a "decisive" role in allocating resources. This meant that the state would gradually reduce its involvement in the distribution of capital, and restructure state-owned enterprises to allow further competition, potentially by attracting foreign and private sector players in industries that were highly regulated previously. This policy aimed to address the bloated state sector that had unduly profited from an earlier round of re-structuring by purchasing assets at below-market prices, assets which were no longer being used productively. The Plenum also resolved to abolish the laogai system of "re-education through labour" which was largely seen as a blot on China's human rights record. The system has faced significant criticism for years from domestic critics and foreign observers. The one-child policy would also be relaxed, allowing two children per family where one parent is an only child.
David Gosset, the Director of Academia Sinica Europaea at the China Europe International Business School, named Xi Jinping the "person of the year" in 2013. Gosset said that Xi's penchant for taking action combined with his affable modesty made him and his country stand in sharp contrast to the political deadlock in the United States and Europe.
In December 2013, Xi showed up unannounced at a small Beijing restaurant to have steam buns (baozi) for lunch, with only one person accompanying him. He paid for the meal himself and dined with regular patrons. Xi was applauded for the 'common touch' of the visit, and images were circulated widely on social media.
Xi coined the phrase "Chinese Dream" to describe his overarching plans for China as its leader. It is used to describe the aspiration of individual self-improvement in Chinese society. Although the phrase has been used previously by journalists and scholars, a translation of a New York Times article written by the American journalist Thomas Friedman, "China Needs Its Own Dream", has been credited with popularizing the concept in China. Friedman attributes the term to Peggy Liu and the environmental NGO JUCCCE's China Dream project, which defines the Chinese Dream as sustainable development. In 2013, the slogan became widespread in the media. In May 2013, Xi called upon young people "to dare to dream, work assiduously to fulfill the dreams and contribute to the revitalization of the nation". He called upon all levels of the Party and the government to facilitate favorable conditions for their career development. Xi told young people to "cherish the glorious youth, strive with pioneer spirit and contribute their wisdom and energy to the realization of the Chinese dream".
Reporters have noted that, "Mr Xi had seen the American dream up close, having spent a couple of weeks in 1985 with a rural family in Muscatine, Iowa. (He revisited them during a trip to America last year  as leader-in-waiting.)"
Xi has reportedly taken on a hard line on security issues as well as foreign affairs. Xi has taken an assertive stand on China's place in Asia. Addressing a regional conference in Shanghai on 21 May 2014, Xi called on Asian countries to unite and forge a way together, rather than get involved with third party powers, seen as a reference to the United States. "Matters in Asia ultimately must be taken care of by Asians. Asia's problems ultimately must be resolved by Asians, and Asia's security ultimately must be protected by Asians", he told the conference.
During his first years in office, Xi appears to be conservative on the subject of political reform, repeatedly issuing pronouncements on the supremacy of the Communist Party, largely echoing Deng Xiaoping's line that economic reform can take place only with strong authoritarian political leadership. The "Document No. 9" is a confidential internal document widely circulated within the Communist Party of China in 2013 by the General Office of the Communist Party of China. The document was first published in July, 2012. The document warns of seven dangerous Western values, including "constitutional democracy", "universal values of human rights" and "civil society". Coverage of these topics in educational materials is forbidden. The release of this internal document, which has introduced new topics that were previously not 'off-limits', was seen as Xi's recognition of the 'sacrosanct' nature of Communist Party rule over China.
Xi's administration has also saw more internet restrictions imposed in China. Xi's term has also marked a further suppression of dissent from civil society, including that which appear in line with Xi's overarching goal of eradicating corruption. Xi's term has seen the arrest and imprisonment of activists such as Xu Zhiyong, as well as numerous others who identified with the New Citizens' Movement. Prominent legal activist Pu Zhiqiang of the Weiquan movement was also arrested and detained. Xi's has been described as preferring highly centralized political power as a means to direct large-scale economic restructuring.
Xi married Ke Lingling, the daughter of Ke Hua, an ambassador to Britain in the early 1980s. They divorced within a few years.
Xi married the prominent Chinese folk singer Peng Liyuan in 1987. Peng Liyuan, a household name in China, was much better known to the public than Xi until his political elevation. The couple frequently lived apart due largely to their separate professional lives. Xi and Peng have a daughter named Xi Mingze, who enrolled as a freshman at Harvard University in the autumn of 2010 under a pseudonym.
Peng described Xi as hardworking and down-to-earth. "When he comes home, I've never felt as if there's some leader in the house. In my eyes, he's just my husband." Peng has played a much more visible role as China's "first lady" compared to her predecessors; for example, Peng hosted U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama on the latter's high-profile visit to China in March 2014. Xi was described in a 2011 The Washington Post article by those who know him as "pragmatic, serious, cautious, hard-working, down to earth and low-key". Xi was also described as a good hand at problem solving and "seemingly uninterested in the trappings of high office." He is also known to love Hollywood films like Saving Private Ryan. The Guardian noted that "perhaps more surprisingly" he also praised the independent film maker Jia Zhangke. He is also reported to be a fan of The Godfather movies.
Xi is 180 cm (5'11") in height, approximately 7 cm taller than his predecessor, Hu Jintao. Having been raised in Beijing, Xi speaks Mandarin Chinese without any regional accents.
In June 2012, Bloomberg reported that members of Xi's extended family have substantial business interests, although there was no evidence that they had been assisted by Xi's political position. The Bloomberg website was blocked in mainland China in response to the article. Since embarking on an anti-corruption campaign, Xi's family were reported by the New York Times to be selling their corporate and real estate investments beginning in 2012, reportedly to decrease Xi's own political vulnerability.