CHINA’S PRESIDENT XI JINPING

“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”

(Buddha)

The life of President Xi Jinping 习近平

 

CHINA’S PRESIDENT XI JINPING

CHINA’S PRESIDENT XI JINPING

It was a pleasant early morning on December 8, 2012 in a verdant park known as Lianhuashan (Lotus Flower Mountain) in Shenzhen, in south China’ s Guangdong Province. The park was not cordoned off to the public. There was no red carpet, nor were there people waving welcoming banners. None of the early risers, doing their usual morning exercises, were expecting to encounter a notable figure.

A middle-aged man in a dark suit and an open-necked white shirt laid a wreath at a statue of the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. Then he circulated among the crowd, engaging in casual conversation.

The visitor was Xi Jinping, elected general secretary of the CPC Central Committee only 24 days previously.

During his visit to Guangdong, Xi called on the entire Party and all of the people of China to continue supporting the path of reform and opening up, and focus on pursuing reform in a more systematic, integrated and coordinated way. He vowed that there would be no slowdown in reform and opening up.

In his first visit outside Beijing as the top CPC leader, Xi went to Guangdong – the wellspring of China’s reform and opening up, following the route Deng had taken 20 years earlier, when the country found itself at a crossroads.

Media reports characterized Xi as a leader who has brought about a fresh breeze through the country’s political life, committed to reform and opening up, and determined to lead the nation in realizing the Chinese Dream.

Xi, who was elected to his new role at the First Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee on November 15, 2012, is the first top Party leader to have been born after 1949, the year the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was founded.

He now leads the 91 year-old CPC, the world’ s largest political party with more than 82 million members, as it rules over China, the world’ s second-largest economy.

The whole country and the world beyond are watching Xi with interest and expectations:

– How will he lead the CPC to better serve the people?

– How will he lead China’s 1.3 billion people to “build a moderately prosperous society in all respects” by the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC in 2021? Furthermore, how will he lead the people to achieve the goal of building an affluent, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious modern socialist country by the time the PRC marks its centennial in 2049?

– How will he lead the country to make its due contribution to world peace and development?

As he met the press on November 15, right after the closing of the first plenum, Xi summed up the CPC’ s mission as comprising three responsibilities – to the nation, to the people and to the Party.

Advocate of the Chinese Dream

“The people aspire to a decent life – that is what we are fighting for,” remarked Xi to the press in his first public speech as CPC general secretary. Shortly after taking office, the display illustrated the huge challenges China has surmounted on the road to national revival since 1840.

“Nowadays, everyone is talking about the Chinese Dream,” he noted. “In my view, realizing the great renewal of the Chinese nation is the greatest dream in modern history.” To achieve this goal, Xi has clarified his position on various aspects of the country’s development:

– On economic development, Xi opposes blind focus on growth, and upholds the principle of scientific development, which seeks sustainability in terms of both resources and the environment.

Xi and the other six members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee visited the exhibition “The Road to Rejuvenation” at the National Museum of China.

– On political development, he stresses the idea that all power belongs to the people, and calls for active and steady political reform while keeping to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. He also stresses the rule of law and exercising state power in accordance with the Constitution.

– On cultural development, he aspires to develop human talent and foster a Chinese national spirit, especially as typified by the words of the national anthem: “We will use our flesh and blood to build our new Great Wall.”

– On social development, he stresses that we must be fully aware of the fact that we are in the primary stage of socialism. We should make continuous efforts to ensure and improve the people’s standard of living through economic development. He also supports building a harmonious society and realizing a good life for the people based on hard work, while taking into consideration the country’s actual circumstances. He calls for joint efforts from all sectors in building a harmonious society.

– On ecological progress, he emphasizes a national strategy of resource conservation, environmental protection and a sustainable pattern of development.

From the Loess Plateau in northwest to the southeast coast of China, from distant localities to the central leadership, Xi has had a well-rounded political career and has developed a deep understanding of the conditions of his country and its people. Xi worked for decades in several localities, including Shanghai and the provinces of Shaanxi, Hebei, Fujian and Zhejiang as a Party or government official, as well as a period spent serving in the army, before he came to Beijing to chair the routine work of the CPC Secretariat.

He was fully aware of the importance of strengthening the Party and regularly emphasized that the Party must discipline itself according to strict standards. Under him, a number of intra-Party rules and regulations were enacted. He has repeatedly stressed that the Party must supervise its own conduct and run itself with strict discipline. At the first study session of the new Political Bureau, he said, “Worms can only grow in something rotten.”[1]  “A large number of facts have proved that corruption is now raging; if it is not curbed our Party and country will surely be doomed. We must keep on high alert.”

Xi pays great attention to investigation, holding that, “investigation should be carried out throughout the decision-making process.” He has also stressed that all officials should go to the grassroots communities and find out what the people think and want, and solve the problems the people are most concerned with.

Beginning in 2008, he served as the head of the leading group in charge of the nationwide study and implementation of the Scientific Outlook on Development within the Party. This 18 month program helped build consensus behind the Scientific Outlook on Development on the part of the whole Party and the country at large, and make the concept a driving force for economic and social development.

He also led a group of people in drafting the 17th CPC Central Committee’s report to the 18th CPC National Congress as well as the amendment to the CPC Constitution, both of which were adopted at the congress and have become important guidelines for China’s future.

Xi has had a connection with the armed forces since his early days. After graduating from university, he worked at the General Office of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the CPC for three years, a job that gave him a deep affection for the armed forces.

In the following years he served concurrently as Party chief for military subareas in addition to holding his Party and government titles. In the course of this, he became familiar with grassroots military affairs. He became CMC vice chairman in 2010 and was named to be the first President to be the CMC chairman since Mao Zedong at the First Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in November 2012.

Xi Jinping having lunch with sailors     Xi Jinping has a lunch with soldiers

Xi is also familiar with issues related to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. His 17- year service in Fujian gave him a deep understanding of Taiwan and enterprises from Taiwan. The first Taiwan chamber of commerce on the mainland was established in Xiamen when he worked in Fujian. He solved many problems for people from Taiwan, and has subsequently been seen as a “good friend” by many of them.

As a member of the central leadership, Xi was in charge of Hong Kong and Macao affairs. He helped work out a number of important policies on the long- term stability and prosperity of the two special administrative regions.

In 2008 and 2009, when Hong Kong and Macao were seriously hit by the international financial crisis, Xi visited both regions to show his support. He encouraged the local people, saying, “There are always more means than difficulties as long as we have a firm resolve.” In 2012, when he talked to deputies to the NPC and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) from Hong Kong and Macao at the annual “two sessions,”[2] he quoted a line from a classic: “If brothers are of the same mind, their edge can cut through metal”[3] to call on the people of Hong Kong and Macao to stick together to strive for a better life.

In 2008 Xi was tasked with heading the preparations for Beijing’s much-anticipated 2008 Olympic Games and the subsequent Paralympics, playing a key role in China’s hosting of these great events.

Regarding the People as Parents

Xi has expressed his deep regard for the people on many occasions: “The importance of the people in the minds of officials determines the importance of officials in the minds of the people.” His love for the people stems from his unique upbringing.

Though son of Xi Zhongxun, a Communist revolutionary and former vice premier, Xi Jinping’s youth was not spent in comfort. Beginning in 1962, when his father was wronged and disgraced, Xi experienced tough times. During the Cultural Revolution he suffered public humiliation and hunger, experienced homelessness and was even held in custody on one occasion.

At the age of 16 he volunteered to live and work in a small village named Liangjiahe in Yanchuan County in northwest China’ s Shaanxi Province as an “educated youth.”

That area, part of the Loess Plateau, was where the Communist revolutionaries, including his father, had risen to found the PRC.

Life there was tough for an urban youth. In the beginning, fleas troubled him so badly he could hardly sleep. In the Shaanxi countryside, he had to do all sorts of hard labor – carrying manure, hauling a coal cart, farming, and building dykes. He was able to walk for 5 km on a mountainous path with two dangling baskets filled with almost one hundred kg of wheat on a shoulder-pole. Locals called him “a tough boy.”

As time passed, the tough work became easier. Xi grew into a capable and hard-working young man in the eyes of the villagers. Through gaining their trust, he was elected village Party chief.

He led the farmers to reinforce the river bank in the slack season of winter in a bid to prevent erosion, organized a small cooperative of blacksmiths in the village to make farming tools, and built a methane tank for gathering cooking gas, the first in landlocked Shaanxi.

 

On one occasion he was awarded a motorized tricycle after being named a “model educated youth.” However, he exchanged the tricycle for a walking tractor, a flour milling machine, a wheat winnowing machine and a water pump to benefit the villagers.

Although he did not attend school, Xi never stopped reading. He brought a case of books to the village and, as recalled by villagers of Liangjiahe, he was always “reading books as thick as bricks while herding sheep on mountain slopes or under a kerosene lamp at night.”

He formed close ties with the villagers during his seven years in the province. After being recommended for enrollment at Tsinghua University in 1975 all the villagers lined up to bid him farewell, and a dozen young men walked more than 30 km to accompany him to the county seat for his trip back to Beijing.

Xi Jinping and villagers from Liangjiahe village   Xi Jinping and leaders of   Xi Jinping (front), then secretary of the Ningde posed for a group photo together in 1975.  Zhending county in 1984.  Prefecture Committee, participates in farm work in the countryside in 1988. (Xinhua)

Xi has never forgotten the villagers of his Shaanxi home. Even after he left, he helped the village get access to electric power, build a bridge, and renovate a primary school. When he was Party chief of Fuzhou City he returned to the village, calling on people door to door. He gave some money to senior villagers, and provided schoolchildren with new schoolbags, school supplies and alarm clocks. When a farmer friend got sick, Xi, then a senior provincial official of Fujian, brought him to Fujian at Xi’s own expense for better medical treatment.

Years of toiling alongside the villagers allowed him to get to know the countryside and farmers well. Xi has said that the two groups of people who gave him the greatest help in his life were revolutionary veterans and the folk from the Shaanxi village where he once lived.He arrived at the village as a slightly lost teenager and left as a 22 year old man determined to do something for the people.

Xi’s affection for the common people influenced him in a number of critical decisions. In the 1980s, when many of his contemporaries opted to do business or went to study abroad, Xi gave up a comfortable office job in Beijing and went to work as the deputy secretary of the Party committee of a small and poverty-stricken county of Zhengding in north China’s Hebei Province. In 1981 the annual per capita income of this county was less than RMB150.

At first local people doubted this young man’s ability. Xi lived in his office, and had meals at the canteen. He was often seen chatting with people while having a simple meal under a tree. Frequently he rode a bicycle to villages to find out how the farmers fared. Thus he won the local people’s trust.

In 1988 he became Party secretary of Ningde Prefecture in southeast China’s Fujian Province, one of the poorest parts of the country at that time.The needs of the people weighed heavy on Xi’s heart, and visits to grassroots units were a regular part of his schedule.During his tenure at Ningde he often traveled for days on mountain roads to reach the farthest corners of the prefecture. The roads were so The needs of the people weighed heavy on Xi’ s heart, and visits to grassroots units were a regular part of his schedule. During his tenure at Ningde he often traveled for days on mountain roads to reach the farthest corners of the prefecture. The roads were so rough that he had to take breaks on the way to ease the pain in his back. He once walked for nearly five hours on a rugged mountain road to get to a village called Xiadang, which was not accessible by highway. There he received a warm welcome from the villagers, who said that Xi was the highest-ranking official who had ever come to the village.

He also helped thousands of farmers in Ningde renovate dilapidated thatched huts, and built houses for fishermen who used to live on boats.When working as Party secretary of Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province, he took the lead in the country in establishing a system for officials to meet petitioners face to face. He introduced the same system in other places where he served later. At one point he and other senior officials in Fuzhou met with more than 700 petitioners in two days, and solved many of their problems on the spot or set a time limit to find solutions.

Before Chinese New Year in 2005, while working in east China’s Zhejiang Province, he visited a coal mine named Changguang, went down nearly 1,000 meters underground, then walked more than 1,500 meters along a narrow and inclined shaft to visit miners and see their working conditions.

Xi attaches great importance to communication with the people via news media. He contributed many articles to a popular column of Zhejiang Daily, using the pen name Zhe Xin. In his 232 articles, he discussed everyday problems of interest to ordinary people. His writings were very popular and people praised him as “using plain words to discuss big problems.”

A mild person, Xi is very tough in disciplining officials and preventing them from acting against the interests of the public. In an investigation into illegal housing construction by officials in Ningde, he grew angry and pounded the table as he asked, “Will we offend a few hundred officials, or will we fail millions of people?” A number of officials in Zhejiang were punished for irregular conduct during his tenure.

Xi is a man of compassion. On each Chinese New Year he sends greetings to his teachers. He provided the only car of the Zhengding Party Committee for the use by war veterans, and built a clinic and a club especially for them. When in Fuzhou, he supported children from poor families to go to school with money from his own pocket.

His work style earned him the nickname “Secretary of the People.” “Officials should love the people in the way they love their parents, work for their benefit and lead them to prosperity,” he once said.

Leader with Foresight

Xi regularly shows a strong sense of responsibility towards the future of the nation and has declared his determination to press forward with reform and opening up.

Throughout his political career his foresight and resolve have been apparent, as well as his willingness to sacrifice personal gain and transient fame for a greater cause.

When working in Xiamen, a coastal city in Fujian and one of the special development zones in China, he took charge of drafting the Socio-Economic Development Strategy of Xiamen 1985-2000, which laid a solid foundation for the city’s urban planning and future economic development. He was put in charge of financial reform, and served as head of an administrative body of the special development zone. Under his leadership, a number of policies and measures to advance the reform and opening up of Xiamen were enacted. Xi was active in enabling Xiamen to be listed as a “city specifically designated in the state plan,” which was approved and benefited the city long after he had left the province.

When working in Zhengding, Hebei Province, he saw a potential business opportunity when he learned that the crew of A Dream of Red Mansions, a popular classic novel turned TV drama, was looking for a filming location.

He proposed building in Zhengding a large residential compound, known as the “Rong Mansion,” that featured in the novel. The compound, which was used for TV shooting, later became a tourist attraction. Tourist income from the Rong Mansion exceeded RMB10 million the year it was completed, more than paying back the initial investment. The site has been used as the set for more than 170 movies and TV dramas, with up to 1.3 million tourists every year.

In Fuzhou, after intense deliberation, he and his colleagues devised the Fuzhou Three-year, Eight-year, and a Twenty-year Development Strategy. All the main targets set by the strategy were achieved on time, and a number of enterprises that were set up or brought to Fuzhou when Xi served there remain industry leaders today, playing a significant role in the city’s development over the past two decades.Working as Fujian governor, he was the first in the country to launch a campaign to crack down on food wastage and ensure food security.

In 1999 he took the lead in putting forward the idea of improving IT infrastructure and introducing information technology to help the public. In 2010 Fujian became the first province in China where all hospitals were linked by computer networks, and digital medical cards were issued to everyone for medical care.

In 2002 Fujian launched the reform of the collective forest property right system, the first of its kind in the country.

Also, during Xi’s tenure, Fujian was among the first provinces in China to adopt special policies to restore the ecological balance and protect the environment. This has made Fujian the province with the best water and air quality, as well as the best ecology and environment in the country.

In 2002 Xi was transferred to Zhejiang Province, one of the most economically developed provinces in China. There Xi made extensive fact-finding trips and in 2003 formulated and put into practice the strategy of “making full use of eight advantages and implementing eight major measures,”[4] laying a solid foundation for the province’s future development.

He initiated local industrial restructuring, transforming the Province’s extensive and inefficient growth pattern, and encouraged leading enterprises from outside the province to invest in Zhejiang.

In addition, he proposed a development mode that would give equal weight to both manufacturing and commerce, a mode particularly suited to the local conditions in Zhejiang. He also supported local companies’ efforts to expand overseas, as well as start-ups by ordinary citizens.

At the same time he encouraged cooperation between Zhejiang and neighboring Shanghai and Jiangsu Province, in order to tap their potential and build an integrated economic powerhouse.

In 2004, under Xi’s leadership, Zhejiang made an attempt to improve community-level democracy. Villages set up special committees to supervise the village Party committees and administrative committees on public affairs, a move that was welcomed by the public.

Village supervision committees, which sprang from the Zhejiang model, were later introduced in an amendment to the Organic Law of Villagers’ Committees in 2010 by the NPC Standing Committee, the top Chinese legislature.

Xi called on the people of Zhejiang to rely on themselves in developing the local economy. He was fully aware that the people of Zhejiang were business-minded, and had a proud tradition of running businesses. Given that Zhejiang lacked natural resources, people had to work harder and find opportunities in other places such as Shanghai and Jiangsu. A number of measures taken under Xi’s leadership enormously promoted the socio-economic development not only in Zhejiang but also the whole area of the Yangtze River Delta[5].

Shanghai was Xi’s last local post before he was promoted to the central leadership. Despite a relatively short term in the country’s financial hub, he left his mark by promoting the economic integration of the Yangtze River Delta and enhancing Shanghai’s leading role in the region.

Xi added “enlightened, sagacious, open-minded, and modest” to the official wording of the Shanghai City Motto, which previously had simply read “inclusive and sublime.” This was intended to capture the essence of the city. Media in Shanghai noted that these modifications helped better present Shanghai to the rest of the world. The changes also attracted attention from further afield.

Only by Hard Work Can We Get to the Fore

“Empty talk harms the country, while hard work makes it flourish,” Xi remarked during his visit to “The Road to Rejuvenation” exhibition in Beijing on the 15th day after being elected as the CPC’s new helmsman.

To put “hard work” in place, Xi presided over a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee that adopted “Eight Rules” to improve the Party’ s conduct and its ties with the people. The rules include more contact with the public, traveling light with a small entourage, using fewer traffic controls, shortening meetings and speeches, and practicing economy. The new rules have elicited a positive response both at home and abroad.

“Only by hard work can we get to the fore,” he once commented. He demands concrete efforts to tackle issues that affect people most. He believes that without hard work the best blueprint will be of no use.

When he served in Zhengding County, Xi said that developing its human resources was the key to poverty reduction and local economic development. He invited professionals to the county and drew up recruitment advertisements for talented people from across the country. On a winter’s day in 1983 he traveled to Shijiazhuang, the provincial seat of Hebei, to invite an expert in medicinal cosmetics to work in Zhengding. Without a full address for the expert, he went from door to door asking for help, and finally found him that evening by shouting his name in the street near his home. Xi and the expert talked until midnight, and the man finally accepted the offer. He later created more than RMB300000 in revenues for the county in his first year.

That same year Xi decided to publish a document listing nine ways to recruit talented people, something that was rare at the time and became a front-page story in the Hebei Daily. He wrote more than 100 letters to experts and scholars, as well as to colleges and research institutions, and paid visits to dozens of experts. Within two years, Zhengding attracted 683 professionals and hired 53 well-known experts as economic counselors.

Together with his colleague Lü Yulan, then deputy Party secretary of Zhengding, and in the face of strong opposition, Xi told superior authorities about the excessive burden faced by the county due to compulsory grain purchases. The issue was eventually resolved and the heavy burden on the local people was lifted.

In Ningde, Xi was also pragmatic and realistic. He pooled resources to encourage cultivation of the large yellow croaker, a local specialty, and thereby greatly increased the income of local fishermen.

He also ordered Party and government offices to be easily accessible to the people. When serving in Fuzhou, he advocated the principle of “special procedures for special issues, and do things right away” to make government agencies more efficient. This principle attracted numerous companies from Taiwan, and helped boost the local economy. In 1992 he took the lead in the country to apply the management mode of foreign-funded enterprises to 12 large and medium-sized state-owned enterprises as a pilot project. He also proposed the compilation of two handbooks on government work, helping local residents and overseas businesspeople in their work and daily life.

In 2000 Xi launched an initiative throughout Fujian to make government agencies more efficient. He proposed changes in government functions and procedures to reduce the amount of documentation that required government approval. By the end of 2001 606 items had been eliminated – more than 40% of the total.

In 2001 Fujian became the first province in China to formulate and implement a policy aimed at making government affairs public. Detailed implementation rules were made to require all counties, cities and districts in the province to make their administrative work transparent. A warning system was established to tighten oversight over all government agencies. In addition, a performance complaint center was set up so that people could voice their criticisms and suggestions.

In August 2002 Xi published an article in a major national newspaper on the “Jinjiang experience,” which advocated market-orientated development, stressed the role of local advantages, called for improvement of government services, and emphasized the importance of the private economy in the development of the county. Also in 2002, he published another article publicizing Nanping City’s experience of sending officials and technicians to work in villages. This practice was later extended from Nanping throughout the province, enhancing ties between officials and farmers, and helping officials to become more oriented towards grassroots results.

In Zhejiang Xi stressed provincial development in the fields of public security, the environment, culture, the rule of law and the marine economy.

To achieve these goals he carried out individual case studies and attended to general planning. In order to understand how individual localities were affected by provincial policies he paid five visits to a mountain village called Xiajiang in underdeveloped Chun’an County in southwest Zhejiang in less than two years. Located deep in the mountains, the village is some 60 km from the county seat. During each visit Xi chatted with villagers at their homes and in the fields. On one occasion he inspected construction of a methane tank. He said that thirty years earlier, when he had lived in a village, he had been an expert in building methane tanks. Xi encouraged villagers to manage the tanks properly and make the village a role model in making use of methane.

He paid special attention to the marine economy. In December 2002 he put forward the objective of building Zhejiang into a province with a strong marine economy, and followed up his general proposal with specific plans and measures to realize this objective. The marine economy in Zhejiang has since developed quickly, with an annual growth of 19.3%. By 2005 it accounted for nearly 8% of the GDP of Zhejiang.

Xi pushed for the integration of the Ningbo and Zhoushan harbors. In 2006 the joint Ningbo-Zhoushan harbor recorded a cargo throughput of 420 million tons, ranking second in China and among the world’s top three.

He also pressed on with the construction of the Hangzhou Bay Bridge, an iconic sea- crossing in China, and at one time the world’s longest sea bridge.

In 2003 Xi proposed that rural communities should be managed more like urban communities, and every effort should be made to narrow the urban-rural gap in quality of life.

Zhejiang realized its development targets one after another during Xi’s tenure. The province had the highest rating in ecology and the environment among all provincial-level regions in 2005. In 2006 almost 95% of the public were satisfied with the province’s public security, making Zhejiang one of the safest provinces in the country.

During his service in Zhejiang, the province’s GDP exceeded RMB1 trillion in 2004, and its annual per capita GDP exceeded US$3,000 in 2005 and stood at nearly US$4,000 in 2006. The province ranked fourth in sustainable development in 2006, after Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin.

Furthermore, all the counties and townships in the province that had been officially classified as “poverty-stricken” were raised out of poverty during that period.

In 2007 Xi was appointed secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee.

In the first month after his appointment Xi began research projects into standards of living, development, the Shanghai World Expo, and the fight against corruption. Despite difficulties and obstacles in the metropolis, Xi convened the Ninth Shanghai Municipal Congress of the CPC, greatly invigorating local officials, rebuilding Shanghai’s image, and setting forth a blueprint for Shanghai for the next five years.

Xi always believes that a county Party chief should visit all the villages in the county, a city Party chief all the districts and townships in the city, and a provincial Party chief all the counties and cities in the province.

He visited all the villages in Zhengding. In Ningde, he visited nine counties during the first three months, and traveled to most of the remaining townships later on. After being transferred to Zhejiang in 2002, he visited all 90 counties in just over a year. During his tenure in Shanghai, he visited all 19 districts and counties in seven months. After he came to work with the central leadership, he visited all the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government on the mainland.

Man with a World Vision

During a recent meeting with foreign experts working in China, Xi said that China, as a responsible country, will not only manage its own affairs, but also properly handle its relations with the rest of the world, so as to foster a more favorable external environment and make a greater contribution to world peace and development.

“China needs to know more about the rest of the world, and the rest of the world also needs to know more about China,” Xi said. Whether working at the local level or with the central leadership, Xi has always valued international exchanges and making foreign friends. He takes every opportunity to meet foreign guests visiting China.

Before Xi came to work with the central leadership he had visited over 60 countries, and met a great number of foreign visitors. In the past five years he has traveled to more than 40 countries and regions across five continents and has had extensive contacts with people of all walks of life. He explains frankly and honestly to foreign friends how the Chinese people view their own country and the outside world, and is willing to listen to them as well. In the eyes of many foreign dignitaries, Xi is a confident, pragmatic, sagacious and good-humored leader.

He often tells foreign visitors that the global community is becoming increasingly integrated, and shares a common destiny. China’s continuous rapid development depends on world peace and development. It also provides opportunities for other countries to develop, so together we can achieve mutually beneficial results and share benefits through mutual respect and pragmatic cooperation.

At the World Peace Forum organized by Tsinghua University in July 2012, Xi noted that a country must let others develop while seeking its own development; must let others feel secure while seeking its own security; must let others live better while aspiring to live better itself. In a meeting with Lee Kuan Yew[6] in Singapore, Xi said that not every strong country would seek hegemony. China would stick to the path of peaceful development, a mutually beneficial strategy and opening up, and the pledge of never seeking hegemony. China would pass its commitment from generation to generation.

Xi’ s foreign visits have sent out a signal that countries should work together to establish a more equal and balanced global partnership, so as to safeguard the common interests of all of humanity and make the earth a better place.

During his five-day visit to the US in 2012, Xi attended 27 events and engaged in exchanges with President Obama and other US politicians, and the public alike. “As long as both sides grasp the thread of common interests, China and the US can explore a path of new partnership in which major powers live in harmony, engage in positive interaction, and achieve mutually beneficial cooperation.” His remarks elicited positive feedback from many in the US. In a recent meeting with former US President Jimmy Carter, Xi called for more “positive energy” for the China-US partnership.

During his visit to Russia, Xi stressed the importance of developing bilateral relations between the two countries. China’s strategic partnership of coordination with Russia has become the closest, most dynamic and most profound between major powers, and developing positive relations with Russia is always a priority for China’ s foreign affairs. Xi attended the second meeting of the dialogue mechanism between the Chinese and Russian ruling parties and had extensive and in-depth discussions with leaders of various parties in Russia, further strengthening Sino-Russian relations.

Xi highly values relations with developing countries. He once said that we would take consolidating and developing relations with developing countries as the aim and basis of China’s foreign policy. In South Africa, Xi attended the fourth plenary session of the China-South Africa Binational Commission, looking forward, together with the South African side, to a bright future for bilateral cooperation.

In a speech delivered at a seminar marking the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Xi underscored China’s friendship with Africa, highlighting that “a friend in need is a friend indeed.”In Saudi Arabia, he stated that a more prosperous and open China would bring great development opportunities to the Middle East and the Gulf countries.

In Chile, speaking of the relationship over the next decade, he proposed that China and Latin America should be good partners in the fields of politics, economics, culture and international affairs.

Xi has been pragmatic and efficient on the international stage. In one single day, while attending the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, Xi exchanged ideas with leaders from more than 20 countries and international organizations. During his visit to Germany and four other European countries, Xi attended five signing ceremonies for economic and trade agreements and six economic and trade forums, and signed 93 cooperation agreements involving a total of US$7.4 billion.

Xi has also emphasized the role of cultural exchanges in the building of a harmonious world. Addressing attendants at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2009, he remarked that through exchanges between different cultures, people from different countries had come to know Confucius from China, Goethe from Germany and Shakespeare from Britain. Promoting international cultural exchanges created important momentum for human progress and peaceful development, he said.

During his visit to Russia, he stood side by side with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin as they launched the “Year of the Chinese Language” in Russia. He said in his address: “Culture is enriched, hearts are joined together, and friendship is deepened through exchanges.”

Xi has a talent for drawing wisdom from Chinese culture and presenting ideas clearly in a straightforward and humorous way. During his US visit, he borrowed a line from the theme song of the popular Chinese TV drama Monkey King to diffuse the gravity of the bilateral issue. “The road is right under our feet,” he said, when describing the “unprecedented” relations between China and the US, presenting the image of a confident and forward-looking Chinese leader.

When facing questions about human rights in China, he is forthright: “There is no best, only better.” He takes the view that every country’s situation is different, and every path is different. “Whether the shoe fits or not, only the wearer knows.”

Amity between peoples is the key to sound relations between states. Xi has said the level of state-to-state friendship depends on relations between their peoples. He once light- heartedly remarked to foreign ministry officials on a diplomatic trip that life lay in motion, and diplomacy lay in activity. In other words, diplomats should travel widely and make more bosom friends.

During his visit to Laos, Xi arranged a special meeting with the late Lao leader Quinim Pholsena’s children, who had lived and studied in Beijing. He joined them in recalling their days at Beijing’s Bayi School. He said that Pholsena’s second son bore the nickname “Chubby Boy.” This made everybody laugh.

During his US visit, Xi traveled to Iowa to join a dozen old acquaintances for tea and a chat at a house in an Iowa farm community. Most of the people at the gathering were friends Xi had made during a 1985 visit to Iowa as a member of an agricultural research delegation.

In Russia, he visited a children’s center to see Chinese students there who had been affected by the devastating Wenchuan earthquake of 2008, and expressed his gratitude to the staff. He kicked off a game of Gaelic football in Dublin’s Croke Park when visiting Ireland and watched an NBA game in the US. The media welcomed such activities as evidence of his cordial image.

“He succeeded in demonstrating not only his personal charisma and bearing, but also the image and charm of China,” an overseas media outlet commented.

Son of a Revolutionary Family; a Good Husband

Xi Jinping’s father Xi Zhongxun was a Party and state leader. At the age of 21 the senior Xi served as chairman of the government of the Shaanxi- Gansu Border Region, a CPC revolutionary base in the 1930s, and was called by Mao Zedong a “leader of the people.”

Xi Zhongxun and his family in the late 1950s. Xi Jinping accompanying his mother Qi Xin Humiliated: Xi Jinping’s father Xi Zhongun

Xi Jinping is standing on the right of the front row.  for a walk  (XINHUA)   is paraded with a placard around his neck in (Photo: hugchina)   the Cultural Revolution in 1962

Xi Zhongxun began to suffer political persecution in 1962, which continued for 16 years. However, he never gave in to adversity but tried his best to help clear the names of others who had been persecuted. Once the Cultural Revolution had come to an end, he served as first secretary of the CPC Guangdong Provincial Committee, at the forefront of China’s reform and opening-up drive, making an important contribution to the establishment of the special economic zones in the province and their rapid development.

Xi’s mother Qi Xin, nearly 90 years of age, is also a veteran revolutionary and Party member. A dutiful son, Xi often strolls and chats with his mother, holding her by the hand, and regularly makes time to dine with her.

The Xi family has a tradition of being strict with children and living a simple life. Xi Zhongxun believed that if a senior Party official wanted to discipline others, he should begin first with himself and his family. Xi Jinping and his younger brother used to wear clothes and shoes handed down from their elder sisters. After Xi Jinping became a leading official, his mother called a family meeting to ban the siblings from engaging in any business in the areas where Xi Jinping worked.

Xi Jinping has carried on his family’s tradition and has been strict with his own family. Wherever he worked, he told his family not to do business there or do anything in his name, otherwise he “would be ruthless.” Whether in Fujian, Zhejiang or Shanghai, he pledged at official meetings that no one was allowed to seek personal benefit through making use of his name, and welcomed supervision in this regard.

Xi married Peng Liyuan, a renowned folk song singer and popular soprano singer of opera. In 1980 Peng caused quite a stir when attending a national art performance in Beijing, representing Shandong Province.

She was the first person in China to obtain a Master’s degree in national vocal music. She is a representative of contemporary national vocal music and one of the founders of the school of national vocal music.

Her most famous works include On the Fields of Hope, People from My Village, We Are Yellow River and Mount Taishan and Rivers and Mountains. She has won many top awards in national vocal music competitions such as China’s Golden Disk Award and the State Audio- Video Award.

She has played leading roles in Chinese national operas such as The White- haired Girl, Grief at Dawn, The Party’ s Daughter and Ode to Heroine Mulan, among others. She has also won the highest theatrical award in China, the Plum Blossom Prize, and the highest performance art award, the Wenhua Prize.

Peng attributes her accomplishments to the people; and said that she should contribute all her talent to the people. Over more than three decades, she has given hundreds of free performances for people from all walks of life across the country. These included performances in impoverished mountain areas, coastal areas, oilfields, mines and barracks, as well as in deserts and on the snowy plateau. She also performed in Wenchuan after the devastating earthquake of 2008, in Beijing’ s Xiaotangshan after the SARS outbreak in 2003, and in flood-hit Jiujiang in Jiangxi Province in 1998.

To better introduce Chinese national vocal music and national opera to the outside world, Peng was the first to play a solo concert in Singapore in 1993. She has also represented China in performances in more than 50 countries and regions, becoming a world-renowned cultural ambassador for China. She produced and played the leading role in the opera Ode to Heroine Mulan, which was performed at New York City’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and at the Vienna State Opera House in Austria.

Peng is currently shifting her focus from performance to education, aiming to train new singers and produce new masterpieces.

Peng and Angélica Rivera, the First Lady of                        China’s first lady Peng Liyuan visits the National Children’s Hospital of Costa

Mexico, visit the children of the Hospital Infantil    Rica, accompanied by Emilce Miranda, mother of Costa Rican President Laura

de México Federico Gómez in Mexico City.                          Chinchilla, in San Jose, June 3, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

Peng is very much devoted to work for the public good. She is a WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, a national AIDS prevention advocate, and an ambassador both for the prevention of juvenile delinquency and for tobacco control. At a recent World AIDS Day activity, raising awareness about AIDS, she was called “Mama Peng” by AIDS orphans.

Xi and Peng fell in love in 1986, and married the same year. Although they were often separated by work commitments, they have understood and supported each other and continuously shown their devotion to each other.

As a member of the People’s Liberation Army, General Peng was often tasked with staging performances in remote areas. These tours sometimes kept her on the road for two to three months at a time. Always concerned about his wife, Xi would phone her before bedtime almost every night, no matter how late it was.

On Chinese New Year’ s Eve, Peng would often perform at the Spring Festival Gala presented by China Central Television. Xi would make dumplings while watching the show and wait for her return to have the family feast.

In the eyes of Peng, Xi is a good husband and a good father. She always shows care and consideration for him. Peng takes every opportunity to be together with her husband, cooking dishes of different styles for him.

To Peng, Xi is both a unique and a very ordinary person. He favors home-made cooking in the Shaanxi and Shandong cuisines, and also enjoys a drink during parties or with friends. He likes swimming, mountaineering, and watching basketball, football and boxing matches. Sometimes he stays up late watching sports on television.

The couple has a daughter, Xi Mingze. Mingze in Chinese connotes “living an honest life and being a useful person to society,” which is their expectation for her and also a symbol of their simple family style.

 

Notes

[1] See note 24, p. 22.

[2] The “two sessions” refer to the annual sessions of the National People’ s Congress and the Chinese People’ s Political Consultative Conference.

[3] See note 5, p. 265.

[4] In July 2003 the fourth plenary (enlarged) session of the 11th CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee proposed to make full use of the province’ s eight advantages for development and implement eight measures for its future growth.

[5] The Yangtze River Delta is one of China’ s major economic regions, mainly covering Shanghai and the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

[6] Lee Kuan Yew was founder and first premier (1965- 1990) of the Republic of Singapore

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