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Xi Jinping

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Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping October 2013 (cropped).jpg
Xi in October 2013
General secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
Assumed office
15 November 2012
Preceded by Hu Jintao
President of the People's Republic of China
Assumed office
14 March 2013
Premier Li Keqiang
Vice President Li Yuanchao
Preceded by Hu Jintao
Chairman of the Central Military Commission
Assumed office
14 March 2013 (State Commission)
15 November 2012 (Party Commission)
Deputy Fan Changlong
Xu Qiliang
Preceded by Hu Jintao
Vice President of the People's Republic of China
In office
14 March 2008 – 14 March 2013
Vice President Li Yuanchao
Preceded by Hu Jintao
Succeeded by Li Keqiang
Personal details
Born (1953-06-15) 15 June 1953 (age 62)
Beijing, China
Political party Communist Party of China
Spouse(s) Ke Lingling (divorced)
Peng Liyuan (m. 1987)
Children Xi Mingze (daughter)
Residence Zhongnanhai
Alma mater Tsinghua University

Xi Jinping
Simplified Chinese 习近平
Traditional Chinese 習近平
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Xi.

Xi Jinping (pronounced [ɕǐ tɕînpʰǐŋ], Chinese: 习近平; 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 and the military, in addition to being the head of state through the office of president, he is sometimes informally referred to[by whom?] as China's "paramount leader".[2][3] As general secretary, Xi is also an ex-officio member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's 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 party secretary of the neighboring Zhejiang between 2002 and 2007. Following the dismissal of Chen Liangyu, Xi transferred to Shanghai as the party secretary for a brief period in 2007. Xi joined the Politburo standing committee and central secretariat in October 2007, and was Hu Jintao's successor. He served as vice-president, between 2008 and 2013.

As Chairman of the CCP's Central Leading Group on Internet Security and Informatization, President Xi is the first PBSC-level cadre to personally take charge of policies related to the Internet, which the CCP as of 2015 regards as potentially subversive, but in regard to which he called Chinese and foreign Internet entrepreneurs to "jointly build a cyberspace of peace, security, openness and cooperation and an international Internet governance system of multilateralism, democracy and transparency". Since he took power in late 2012, a number of dissidents were arrested for allegedly spreading rumors or fomenting anti-party sentiments, namely that of the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. Xi has attempted to legitimize the authority of the Communist Party, introducing far-ranging measures to enforce party discipline and to ensure internal unity.[4]

Xi is now the leader of the People's Republic's fifth generation of leadership.[5] Since assuming leadership he has significantly centralized institutional power by taking on a wide range of leadership positions himself, chairing the newly formed National Security Commission, and initiating an unprecedented and far-reaching campaign against corruption. Xi has called for further market economic reforms, for governing according to the law and for strengthening legal institutions, with an emphasis on individual and national aspirations under the neologism "Chinese Dream".[6] Xi has also championed a more assertive foreign policy, particularly in relation to Sino-Japanese relations, disputes in the South China Sea, involvement in Asian regional affairs, and initiatives related to energy and natural resources.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Xi Jinping (left) was together with Xi Yuanping (younger brother, center) and Xi Zhongxun (father, right) in 1958.

Xi Jinping was born on 15 June 1953 in Beijing. His father, Xi Zhongxun (1913–2002), was a Communist revolutionary figure.[7] 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.[8] Xi's father is from Fuping County, Shaanxi, and Xi could further trace his patrilineal descent from Xiying in Dengzhou, Henan.[9] He is the second son of Xi Zhongxun and his wife Qi Xin.[10]

When Xi was 10, his father was purged and sent to work in a factory in Luoyang, Henan.[11] 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."[12]

From 1975 to 1979, Xi studied chemical engineering at Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University as a "Worker, Peasant, PLA" student (gongnongbing xuesheng). 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".[13] From 1998 to 2002, he studied Marxist philosophy and ideological education in an "on-the-job" postgraduate programme at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, again at Tsinghua University, and obtained a Doctor of Law (LLD) degree, which was a degree covering fields of law, politics, management, and revolutionary history,[14] though commentators have questioned this qualification, pointing out a number of problems with it.[15]

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.[16] This trip, and his stay with an American family, has been considered influential in how he views the United States.[17]

Rise to power[edit]

Xi joined the Communist Youth League in 1971 and the Communist Party of China in 1974.[18] In 1982, he was sent to Zhengding County in Hebei as deputy Party Secretary of Zhengding County. He was promoted in 1983 to Secretary, becoming the top official of the county.[19] Xi subsequently served in four provinces during his regional political career: Hebei (1982–1985), Fujian (1985–2002), Zhejiang (2002–2007), and Shanghai (2007).

Xi held posts in the Fuzhou Municipal Party Committee and became the president of the Party School in Fuzhou in 1990. In 1999, he was promoted to the office of Vice Governor of Fujian, then he became Governor a year later. In Fujian, Xi made efforts to attract investment from Taiwan and to strengthen the private sector of the provincial economy. In February 2000, he and then-provincial Party Secretary Chen Mingyi were called before the top 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.[20]

In 2002, Xi left Fujian and took up leading political positions in neighbouring Zhejiang, eventually taking over as provincial party chief after several months as acting Governor, occupying a top provincial office for the first time in his career. In 1997, Xi was named an alternate member of the 15th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. However, out of the 151 alternate members of the Central Committee elected at the 15th Party Congress, Xi received the lowest number of votes in favour, placing him in last place in the rankings of members, ostensibly due to his status as a Princeling.[a][21] In 2002, Xi was elected a full member of the 16th Central Committee, marking his ascension to the national stage. While in Zhejiang, Xi presided over economic conditions 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.[22]

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 party chief of Shanghai.[23] Xi spent only seven months in Shanghai, but his appointment to one of the most important regional posts in China sent a clear signal that Xi was highly regarded by China's top leadership and was destined for even higher office. In Shanghai, Xi avoided controversy, and was known for strictly observing party discipline. For example, Shanghai administrators attempted to earn favour with Xi by arranging a special train to shuttle him between Shanghai and Hangzhou (capital of Zhejiang province) in order for him to complete handing off his work to his successor as Zhejiang party chief Zhao Hongzhu. However, Xi reportedly refused to take the train, citing a loosely enforced party regulation which stipulated that special trains can only be reserved for "national leaders."[24] While in Shanghai, he worked on preserving unity of the local party organization, and made a pledge that there would be no 'purges' during his administration, despite the fact that many local officials were thought to have been implicated in the Chen Liangyu corruption scandal.[25] On most issues Xi largely echoed the line of the central leadership.[26] 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 member[edit]

Xi Jinping greeting U.S. President George W. Bush in August 2008.
Xi Jinping with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on 28 September 2010.
Xi Jinping at a meeting with United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on 19 September 2012.

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.[27] Some[who?] 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.[citation needed]

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.[28] 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.[29]

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.[clarification needed] 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."[30] 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".[31] Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson described Xi as "the kind of guy who knows how to get things over the goal line."[32] Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that Xi "has sufficient reformist, party and military background to be very much his own man."[33]

Trips as Vice President and Mexico commentary incident[edit]

In February 2009, in his capacity as Vice-President, Xi Jinping embarked on a tour of Latin America, visiting Mexico,[34][35] Jamaica,[36][37] Colombia,[38][39] Venezuela,[40][41] and Brazil[42] 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.[43][44]

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".[45] 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?"[46][47] 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 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.[48]

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.[49] Xi visited Japan, South Korea, Cambodia, and Myanmar on his Asian trip from 14 to 22 December 2009.[50]

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[51] 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.[52]

Leader of China[edit]

Accession to top posts[edit]

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.[53] 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.[54][55][56] 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.[57] 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.[58]

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.[59] 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. He 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.[60]

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.[61] He replaced Hu Jintao, who retired after serving two terms.[62] Although the presidency is officially a ceremonial post,[b] 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,[62] becoming the first vice-president not to be a member of the Politburo Standing Committee since Rong Yiren in 1998.[64]

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.[65] 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.[66] 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.[67] Within a week of his assuming the Presidency, Xi embarked on a trip to Russia, Tanzania, South Africa, and Republic of Congo.[68]

Announcing reforms[edit]

In November 2013, at the conclusion of the Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee, 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.[69] 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.[69] 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.[69] The one-child policy would also be relaxed, allowing two children per family where one parent is an only child.[70]

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.[71] 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.[71]

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.[72] Xi was applauded for the 'common touch' of the visit, and images were circulated widely on social media.[72]

Anti-corruption campaign[edit]

Xi vowed to crack down on corruption almost immediately after he ascended to power at the 18th Party Congress. In his 'inaugural speech' as general secretary, Xi mentioned that fighting corruption was one of the toughest challenges for the party.[73] A few months into his term, Xi outlined the "eight-point guide", listing out rules intended to curb corruption and waste during official party business; it aimed at stricter discipline on the conduct of party officials. Xi also vowed to root out "tigers and flies", that is, high-ranking officials and ordinary party functionaries.[74] During the first two years of Xi's term, he initiated bold cases against former Central Military Commission vice-chairman Xu Caihou, former Politburo Standing Committee member and security chief Zhou Yongkang, and former Hu Jintao chief aide Ling Jihua.[75]

Along with new disciplinary chief Wang Qishan, Xi's administration spearheaded the formation of "centrally-dispatched inspection teams" (中央巡视组), essentially cross-jurisdictional squads of officials whose main task was to gain more in-depth understanding of the operations of provincial and local party organizations, and in the process, also enforce party discipline mandated by Beijing. Many of the work teams also had the effect of identifying and initiating investigations on high-ranking officials. Over fifty provincial-ministerial level officials were implicated during a massive nationwide anti-corruption campaign. These include former and current regional officials (Su Rong, Bai Enpei, Wan Qingliang), leading figures of state-owned enterprises and central government organs (Song Lin, Liu Tienan), and highly ranked generals in the military (Gu Junshan). In June 2014, the Shanxi provincial political establishment was decimated, with four officials dismissed within a week from the provincial party organization's top ranks.

Consolidation of power[edit]

Portrait of Xi in Beijing, September 2015
A PRC propaganda portrait of Xi, 31 March 2015

Political observers have called Xi "the most powerful Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping."[76] Xi has notably departed from the "collective rule" practices of his predecessor Hu Jintao. During his years as the party's general secretary, Hu was seen as the "first among equals" with his Standing Committee colleagues, an arbiter of collective opinion. In the top leadership, Hu's power was shared, mostly notably with Premier Wen Jiabao and former Political and Legal Affairs Commission Secretary Zhou Yongkang, who presided over the government bureaucracy (and thus, the economy) and the state security system, respectively. Xi, on the other hand, has unmistakably become the central figure of the new administration.

Beginning in 2013, the party under Xi has created a series of new "Central Leading Groups", that is, supra-ministerial steering committees, to bypass existing institutions when making decisions, and ostensibly making policy-making a more efficient process. The most notable new body is the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms, which has broad jurisdiction over economic restructuring and social reforms, said to have displaced some of the power previously held by the State Council and its Premier.[77] Xi also became the leader of the Central Leading Group for Internet Security and Informatization, in charge of cyber-security and internet policy. The Third Plenum held in 2013 also saw the creation of the National Security Commission, another body chaired by Xi which is believed to have ultimate oversight over issues of national security such as combating terrorism, intelligence, espionage, ultimately incorporating many areas of jurisdiction formerly vested in the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission under Zhou Yongkang.

Xi has also been active in his participation in military affairs, taking a direct hands-on approach to military reform. In addition to being the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, and the leader of the Central Leading Group for Military Reform founded in 2014 to oversee comprehensive military reforms, Xi has delivered numerous high profile pronouncements vowing to clean up malfeasance and complacency in the military, aiming to build a more effective fighting force. In addition, Xi held the "New Gutian Conference" in 2014, gathering China's top military officers, re-emphasizing the principle of "the party has absolute control over the army" first established by Mao at the 1929 Gutian Conference.[78]

Legal reforms[edit]

The party under Xi announced a raft of legal reforms at the Fourth Plenum held in the fall 2014, calling for "rule by law" (yifazhiguo, sometimes translated as "rule of law"). The party aimed to reform the legal system which had been perceived as ineffective at delivering justice and affected by corruption, local government interference, and lack of constitutional oversight. The plenum, while emphasizing the absolute leadership of the party, also called for a greater role of the constitution on the affairs of state, and a strengthening of the role of the National People's Congress Standing Committee in interpreting the constitution.[79] It also called for more transparency in legal proceedings, more involvement of ordinary citizens in the legislative process, and an overall "professionalization" of the legal workforce. The party also planned to institute cross-jurisdictional circuit legal tribunals as well as giving provinces consolidated administrative oversight over lower level legal resources, which is intended to have the effect of reducing local government involvement in legal proceedings.[80]

Foreign trips as President[edit]

Xi's made his first foreign trip as President to Russia on 22 March 2013, about a week after he assumed the presidency. He met with President Vladimir Putin and the two leaders discussed trade and energy issues. He then went onto Tanzania, South Africa (where he attended the BRICS summit in Durban), and the Republic of the Congo.[81] Xi visited the United States at Sunnylands Estate in California in a 'shirtsleeves summit' with U.S. President Barack Obama in June 2013, although this was not considered a formal state visit.[82] In October 2013 Xi attended the APEC Summit in Bali, Indonesia.

Xi made a trip to Western Europe in March 2014, visiting the Netherlands, where he attended the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, followed by France, Germany, and Belgium.[83] In April 2014, Xi went to Jakarta and Bandung, Indonesia, to attend the Afro-Asian Leaders Summit and the 60th Anniversary events of the Bandung Conference. Xi made a state visit to South Korea on 4 July 2014 and met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.[84] Between 14 to 23 July, Xi attended the BRICS leader's summit in Brazil and also visited Argentina, Venezuela, and Cuba.[85]

Xi with his first lady during the Moscow Victory Day Parade on 9 May 2015

Xi went on an official state visit to India and met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2014; he visited New Delhi but also went to Modi's hometown in the state of Gujarat.[86] Xi went on a state visit to Australia and met with Prime Minister Tony Abbott in November 2014,[87] followed by a visit to the island nation of Fiji.[88] Xi visited Pakistan in April 2015, signing a series of deals over infrastructure related to the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor.[89] Xi visited Russia and was the guest-of-honour of Russian president Vladimir Putin at the 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade to mark the 70th Anniversary of the victory of the allies in Europe. At the parade Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan sat next to Putin. On the same trip Xi also visited Kazakhstan and met with that country's president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and also met with Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus.[90]

Xi, who was on a four-day state visit to the UK, addressed both Houses of Parliament at Westminster, 21 October 2015

In September 2015, Xi made his first state visit to the United States.[91][92][93] In October 2015, Xi made a state visit to the United Kingdom, the first by a Chinese leader for a decade.[94] This followed a visit to China in March 2015 by the Duke of Cambridge. During the state visit, Xi met Queen Elizabeth II, British Prime Minister David Cameron and other dignitaries. Increased customs, trade and research collaborations between China and the UK were discussed, but more informal events also took place including a visit to Manchester City's football academy.[95] There were red carpets laid out for him at both 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace.[96]

Xi has never had a face-to-face meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.[97]

Cultural revival[edit]

As Communist ideology plays a less central role in the lives of the masses in the People's Republic of China, top political leaders of the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China such as Xi Jinping continue the rehabilitation of figures like Han Fei into the mainstream of Chinese thought alongside Confucianism, both of which Xi sees as relevant. "He who rules by virtue is like the North Star," he said at a meeting of officials last year, quoting Confucius. "It maintains its place, and the multitude of stars pay homage." In Shandong, the Birthplace of Confucius, he told scholars that while the West was suffering a "crisis of confidence," the Communist Party had been "the loyal inheritor and promoter of China's outstanding traditional culture."[98]

Han Fei gained new prominence with favourable citations. One sentence of Han Fei's that Xi quoted appeared thousands of times in official Chinese media at the local, provincial, and national levels.[99] More critically, Jin Kai of The Diplomat writes, "The Chinese leadership does not indiscriminately copy existing theories from its ancient philosophies or the Western ideologies. Instead, the CCP consistently insists that all theories, institutions, and patterns should be weighed with regard to the real situation in China... Ryan Mitchell described Xi as a pragmatic legalist. In fact, pragmatism is a better way to describe on-going changes in both China's political and diplomatic practices."[100]

Political positions[edit]

Chinese Dream[edit]

Main article: Chinese Dream

Xi and Communist Party ideologues coined the phrase "Chinese Dream" to describe his overarching plans for China as its leader. Since 2013, the phrase has emerged as the distinctive quasi-official ideology of the party leadership under Xi Jinping, much as the "Scientific Outlook on Development" was for Hu Jintao and the "Three Represents" was for Jiang Zemin. The origins of the term "Chinese Dream" is unclear. While the phrase has been used previously by journalists and scholars,[101] some publications have posited that the term likely drew its inspiration from the concept of the American Dream.[102] The Economist noted the abstract and seemingly accessible nature of the concept with no specific overarching policy stipulations may be a deliberate departure from the jargon-heavy ideologies of his predecessors.[103]

While the Chinese Dream was originally interpreted as an extension of the American Dream, which emphasizes individual self-improvement and opportunity,[103] the slogan's use in official settings since 2013 has taken on a noticeably more nationalistic character, with official pronouncements of the "Dream" being consistently linked with the phrase "great revival of the Chinese nation."[104] The policy implications of the "Chinese Dream" remains unclear.

Xi first used the phrase during a high-profile visit to the National Museum of China on 29 November 2012, where Xi and his Standing Committee colleagues were attending a "national revival" exhibition. Since then, the phrase has become the signature political slogan of the Xi era.[105]

Foreign policy[edit]

Xi giving a speech at the U.S. Department of State in 2012, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice-President Joe Biden in the background.

Xi has reportedly taken on a hard line on security issues as well as foreign affairs, projecting a more nationalistic and assertive China on the world stage.[106] Xi's administration is even more anathema than his predecessors on foreign criticism of what is regarded as China's "internal affairs". Xi's political program calls for a China more united and confident of its own value system and political structure.[107]

Under Xi China has also taken on a more critical stance of North Korea, while improving its relationship with South Korea.[108] China-Japan relations have soured under Xi's administration; the most thorny issue between the two countries remains the dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. In response to Japan's continued hard-line stance on the issue, China declared a Air Defense Identification Zone in November 2013.[109]

Xi has called China-U.S. relations in the contemporary world a "new type of great power relations", a phrase the Obama Administration has been reluctant to embrace.[110] Under his administration the Strategic and Economic Dialogue that began under Hu Jintao has continued. On China-U.S. relations, Xi said, "If [China and the United States] are in confrontation, it would surely spell disaster for both countries".[111] Xi met with President Obama privately at the Sunnylands ranch in California in 2013, in what became known as the "shirtsleeves summit". The U.S. has been critical of Chinese actions in the South China Sea.[110]

Xi has also cultivated stronger relations with Russia, particularly in the wake of the Ukraine crisis of 2014. Xi seems to have developed a strong personal relationship with President Vladimir Putin, both of whom are viewed as strong leaders with a nationalist orientation who are not afraid to assert themselves against Western interests.[112] Xi attended the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Under Xi, China signed a $400 billion gas deal with Russia; China has also become Russia's largest trading partner.[112]

BRICS leaders at the G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, 15 November 2014

Xi has also indirectly spoken out critically on the U.S. "strategic pivot" to Asia.[113] 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.[114]

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden raises a toast in honor of Xi at a state luncheon at the State Department on September 25, 2015

In November 2014, in a major policy address, Xi has called for a decrease in the use of force, preferring dialogue and consultation to solve the current issues plaguing the relationship between China and its South East Asian neighbors.[115] In April 2015 Xi led a large delegation on a state visit to Pakistan. During his visit he signed energy and infrastructure deals worth $45 billion including the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor. Xi was also conferred upon with the Nishan-e-Pakistan, Pakistan's highest civilian award.[116]

In April 2015 new satellite imagery revealed that China was rapidly constructing an airfield at Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea.[117] In May 2015, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter warned government of Xi Jinping to halt its rapid island-building in disputed territory in the South China Sea.[118]

Role of the Communist Party[edit]

Early on in his term, Xi repeatedly issued pronouncements on the supremacy of the Communist Party, largely echoing Deng Xiaoping's line that effective economic reform can only take place within the one-party political framework. In Xi's view, the Communist Party is the legitimate, constitutionally-sanctioned ruling party of China, and that the party derives this legitimacy through advancing the so-called "mass line"; that is, the party represents the interests of the overwhelming majority of ordinary people.

Xi's position has been described as preferring highly centralized political power as a means to direct large-scale economic restructuring.[119] Xi believes that China should be 'following its own path' and that a strong authoritarian government is an integral part of the "China model", operating on a "core socialist value system", which has been interpreted as China's alternative to Western values. However, Xi and his colleagues acknowledge the challenges to the legitimacy of Communist rule, particularly corruption by party officials. The answer, according to Xi's programme, is two-fold. Strengthen the party from within, by streamlining strict party discipline and initiating a large anti-corruption campaign to remove unsavoury elements from within the party, and instituting Mao-style "mass line" campaigns externally to make party officials better understand and serve the needs of ordinary people. Xi believes that just as the party must be at the apex of political control of the state, the party's central authorities (i.e., the Politburo, PSC, or himself as general secretary) must exercise full and direct political control of all party activities.[120]

Xi's policies have been characterized as "economically liberal but politically conservative" by Cheng Li of the Brookings Institution.[108]


The "Document No. 9" is a confidential internal document widely circulated within the Communist Party of China in 2013 by the party's General Office.[121][122] The document was first published in July 2012.[123] The document warns of seven dangerous Western values: constitutional democracy, universal values of human rights, civil society, pro-market neo-liberalism, media independence, historical nihilism [criticisms of past errors], and questioning Reform and Opening.[124] Coverage of these topics in educational materials is forbidden.[125] 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.[124]

Xi's administration has also overseen more internet restrictions imposed in China, and is described as being "stricter across the board" on speech than previous administrations.[126] Xi's term has also resulted in 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.[127] The situation for users of Weibo has been described as a change from fearing that individual posts would be deleted, or at worst one's account, to fear of arrest.[128] A law enacted in September 2013 authorized a three-year prison term for bloggers who shared an "defamatory" message read more than 500 times.[129] A group of influential bloggers were summonsed by the State Internet Information Department to a seminar instructing them to avoid writing about politics, the Communist Party, or making statements contradicting official narratives. Many bloggers stopped writing about controversial topics, and Weibo went into decline, with much of its readership shifting to WeChat users speaking to very limited social circles.[129]

Personal life[edit]

Xi married Ke Lingling, the daughter of Ke Hua, an ambassador to Britain in the early 1980s. They divorced within a few years.[130]

Xi married the prominent Chinese folk singer Peng Liyuan in 1987.[131] 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.[132]

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."[133] 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.[134] 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."[135] He is also known to love U.S. films, such as Saving Private Ryan and The Departed.[136] He also praised the independent film maker Jia Zhangke.[137] He is also reported to be a fan of The Godfather movies.[138]

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.[139] The Bloomberg website was blocked in mainland China in response to the article.[140] 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.[141]


Foreign Honour

Key to the City

See also[edit]


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  1. ^ It should be duly noted that Liu Yandong, Wang Qishan, and Deng Pufang (Deng Xiaoping's son) all placed among the bottom of the alternate member list. Like Xi, all three were seen as "Princelings". It should also be noted that Bo Xilai did not get elected to the Central Committee at all; that is, Bo placed lower in the vote count compared to Xi.
  2. ^ The office of the President is a prestigious one. The President is the Head of the State. The Constitution of 1982 restores powers and functions of the President of the People's Republic of China and recognizes him as the Head of the State. But he is not the real executive like the U.S. president but only a ceremonial Head. He can be compared with the Indian president or the monarch of the United Kingdom.[63]

External links[edit]