|General Secretary of the Communist Party of China|
15 November 2012
|Preceded by||Hu Jintao|
|7th President of the People’s Republic of China|
14 March 2013
|Vice President||Li Yuanchao
|Preceded by||Hu Jintao|
|Chairman of the Central Military Commission|
15 November 2012 (Party Commission)
14 March 2013 (State Commission)
|Preceded by||Hu Jintao|
|Born||15 June 1953
|Political party||Communist Party of China|
(m. 1979; div. 1982)
Peng Liyuan (m. 1987)
|Children||Xi Mingze (daughter)|
|Parents||Xi Zhongxun (father)
Qi Xin (mother)
|Relatives||Qi Qiaoqiao (sister)
Deng Jiagui (brother-in-law)
|Alma mater||Tsinghua University|
|Allegiance||Communist Party of China|
|Service/branch||People’s Liberation Army|
|Years of service||1979–1982|
|Unit||General Office of the Central Military Commission (1979–1982, as a secretary of Defense Minister Geng Biao)|
the People’s Republic of China
“Xi Jinping” in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese characters
|This article is part of a series on the|
|Politics of China|
Xi Jinping (/ʃiː/; Chinese: 习近平; born 15 June 1953) is a Chinese politician currently serving as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), President of the People’s Republic of China, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission. Often described as China’s “paramount leader“, in 2016 the CPC officially gave him the title of “core leader”. As General Secretary, Xi holds an ex-officio seat on the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, China’s top decision-making body.
Xi is the first General Secretary to have been born after the Second World War. The son of Chinese Communist veteran Xi Zhongxun, he was exiled to rural Yanchuan County as a teenager following his father’s purge during the Cultural Revolution, and lived in a cave in the village of Liangjiahe, where he organized communal laborers. After studying at the prestigious Tsinghua University as a “Worker-Peasant-Soldier Student“, Xi rose through the ranks politically in China’s coastal provinces. Xi was governor of Fujian province from 1999 to 2002, and governor, then party secretary of neighboring Zhejiang province from 2002 to 2007. Following the dismissal of Chen Liangyu, Xi was transferred to Shanghai as party secretary for a brief period in 2007. Xi joined the Politburo Standing Committee and central secretariat in October 2007, spending the next five years as Hu Jintao‘s presumed successor. Xi was vice president from 2008 to 2013 and Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission from 2010 to 2012.
Since assuming power, Xi has introduced far-ranging measures to enforce party discipline and to ensure internal unity. His signature anti-corruption campaign has led to the downfall of prominent incumbent and retired Communist Party officials, including members of the Politburo Standing Committee. Described as a Chinese nationalist, Xi has tightened restrictions over civil society and ideological discourse, advocating internet censorship in China as the concept of “internet sovereignty”. 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 slogan “Chinese Dream“. Xi has also championed a more assertive foreign policy, particularly with regard to China–Japan relations, China’s claims in the South China Sea, and its role as a leading advocate of free trade and globalization. He has also sought to expand China’s Eurasian influence through the One Belt One Road Initiative. The 2015 meeting between Xi and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou marked the first time the political leaders of both sides of the Taiwan Strait met since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1950.
Considered the central figure of the fifth generation of leadership of the People’s Republic, Xi has significantly centralized institutional power by taking on a wide range of leadership positions, including chairing the newly formed National Security Commission, as well as new steering committees on economic and social reforms, military restructuring and modernisation, and the Internet. Said to be one of the most powerful leaders in modern Chinese history, Xi’s political thoughts have been written into the party and state constitutions, and under his leadership the latter was amended to abolish term limits for the presidency. In 2018, Forbes ranked Xi as the most powerful and influential person in the world, dethroning Vladimir Putinwho held the record for 5 consecutive years.
- 1Early life and education
- 2Rise to power
- 3Politburo Standing Committee member
- 5Political positions
- 6Personal life
- 8See also
- 11External links
Early life and education
Xi Jinping was born in Beijing on 15 June 1953. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 by Mao Zedong, Xi’s father held a series of posts, including propaganda chief, vice-premier, and vice-chairman of the National People’s Congress. Xi’s father is from Fuping County, Shaanxi, and Xi could further trace his patrilineal descent from Xiying in Dengzhou, Henan. He is the second son of Xi Zhongxun and his wife Qi Xin.
In 1963, when Xi was age 10, his father was purged from the Party and sent to work in a factory in Luoyang, Henan. In May 1966, Xi’s secondary education was cut short by the Cultural Revolution, when all secondary classes were halted for students to criticise and fight their teachers. The Xi family home was ransacked by student militants and one of Xi’s sisters, Xi Heping, was killed. Later, his mother was forced to publicly denounce him as Xi was paraded before a crowd as an enemy of the revolution. Xi was aged 15 when his father was imprisoned in 1968 during the Cultural Revolution; Xi would not see his father again until 1972. Without the protection of his father, Xi was sent to work in Liangjiahe Village, Wen’anyi Town, Yanchuan County, Yan’an, Shaanxi, in 1969 in Mao Zedong‘s Down to the Countryside Movement. After a few months, unable to stand rural life, he ran away to Beijing. He was arrested during a crackdown on deserters from the countryside and sent to a work camp to dig ditches. He later became the Party branch secretary of the production team, leaving that post in 1975. When asked about this experience later by Chinese state television, Xi recalled, “It was emotional. It was a mood. And when the ideals of the Cultural Revolution could not be realised, it proved an illusion.”
From 1975 to 1979, Xi studied chemical engineering at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University as a “Worker-Peasant-Soldier student“, where engineering majors spent about one-fifth of their time studying Marxism–Leninism–Mao Zedong thought, doing farm work and “learning from the People’s Liberation Army”.
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 U.S. agriculture, he stayed in the home of an American family in the town of Muscatine, Iowa. This trip, and his two-week stay with a U.S. family, is said to have had a lasting impression upon him and his views on the United States.
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, though commentators have questioned this qualification.
Rise to power
Xi joined the Communist Youth League of China in 1971 and he applied in 1973 to join the Communist Party of China 10 times and finally got in on the tenth attempt in 1974. 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. 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 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]
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 of the Communist Party of China – general secretary Jiang Zemin, Premier Zhu Rongji, Vice-President Hu Jintao and Discipline Inspection secretary Wei Jianxing – to explain aspects of the Yuanhua scandal.
In 2002, Xi 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 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 reported growth rates averaging 14% per year. His career in Zhejiang was marked by a tough and straightforward stance against corrupt officials, which earned him a name on the national media and drew the attention of China’s top leaders.
Following the dismissal of Shanghai Party Chief Chen Liangyu in September 2006 due to a social security fund scandal, Xi was transferred to Shanghai in March 2007 to become the party chief of Shanghai. 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. 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 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”. 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. On most issues Xi largely echoed the line of the central leadership.
Politburo Standing Committee member
Xi was appointed to the nine-man Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China 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.
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 of the Communist Party of China, the cadre-training and ideological education wing of the Communist Party. In the wake of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Xi visited disaster areas in Shaanxi and Gansu. Xi made his first foreign trip as vice president to North Korea, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Yemen from 17 to 25 June 2008. After the Olympics, Xi was assigned the post of Committee Chair for the preparations of the 60th Anniversary Celebrations of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. He was also reportedly at the helm of a top-level Communist Party committee dubbed the 6521 Project, which was charged with ensuring social stability during a series of politically sensitive anniversaries in 2009.
Xi is considered to be one of the most successful members of the Crown Prince Party, a quasi-clique of politicians who are descendants of early Chinese Communist revolutionaries. Former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, when asked about Xi, said he felt he was “a thoughtful man who has gone through many trials and tribulations.” Lee also commented: “I would put him in the Nelson Mandela class of persons. A person with enormous emotional stability who does not allow his personal misfortunes or sufferings affect his judgment. In other words, he is impressive”.Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson described Xi as “the kind of guy who knows how to get things over the goal line.” Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that Xi “has sufficient reformist, party and military background to be very much his own man.” Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted, “Xi hosting a meeting on women’s rights at the UN while persecuting feminists? Shameless.”
Trips as Vice President and Mexico commentary incident
In February 2009, in his capacity as vice-president, Xi Jinping embarked on a tour of Latin America, visiting Mexico, Jamaica,Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil to promote Chinese ties in the region and boost the country’s reputation in the wake of the global financial crisis. He also visited Valletta, Malta, before returning to China.
On 11 February, while visiting Mexico, Xi spoke in front of a group of overseas Chinese and explained China’s contributions to the financial crisis, saying that it was “the greatest contribution towards the whole of human race, made by China, to prevent its 1.3 billion people from hunger”. Xi went on to remark: “There are some bored foreigners, with full stomachs, who have nothing better to do than point fingers at us. First, China doesn’t export revolution; second, China doesn’t export hunger and poverty; third, China doesn’t come and cause you headaches. What more is there to be said?” The story was reported on some local television stations. The news led to a flood of discussions on Chinese internet forums. It was reported that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs was caught off-guard by Xi’s remarks, as the actual video was shot by some accompanying Hong Kong reporters and broadcast on Hong Kong TV, which then turned up in various internet video websites.
Xi continued his international trips, some say to burnish his foreign affairs credentials prior to taking the helm of China’s leadership. In the European Union, Xi visited Belgium, Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania from 7 October to 21 2009. Xi visited Japan, South Korea, Cambodia, and Myanmar on his Asian trip from 14 to 22 December 2009.
Xi visited the United States, Ireland and Turkey in February 2012. The visit included meeting with then U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House and then Vice President Joe Biden; 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.
A few months before his ascendancy to the party leadership, Xi Jinping disappeared from official media coverage for several weeks beginning on 1 September 2012. On 4 September, he cancelled a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and later also cancelled meetings with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and a top Russian official. It was said that Xi effectively “went on strike” in preparation for the power transition in order to install political allies in key roles. The Washington Post reported that Xi may have been injured in an altercation during a meeting of the “red second generation” which turned violent.
Accession to top posts
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 and the first one to be born in the People’s Republic of China and not a preceding Chinese state. On the following day, Xi led the new line-up of the Politburo Standing Committee onto the stage in their first public appearance. The new Standing Committee decreased its number of seats from nine to seven, with only Xi himself and Li Keqiang retaining their seats from the previous Standing Committee; the remaining members were new. In a marked departure from the common practice of Chinese leaders, Xi’s first speech as general secretary was plainly worded and did not include any political slogans or mention of his predecessors. Xi mentioned the aspirations of the average person, remarking, “Our people … expect better education, more stable jobs, better income, more reliable social security, medical care of a higher standard, more comfortable living conditions, and a more beautiful environment.” Xi also vowed to tackle corruption at the highest levels, alluding that it would threaten the Party’s survival; he was reticent about far-reaching economic reforms.
In December 2012, Xi visited Guangdong in his first trip outside of Beijing since taking the Party leadership. The overarching theme of the trip was to call for further economic reform and a strengthened military. Xi visited 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. On his trip, Xi consistently alluded to his signature slogan the “Chinese Dream”. “This dream can be said to be the dream of a strong nation. And for the military, it is a dream of a strong military”, Xi told sailors. Xi’s trip was significant in that he departed from established convention of Chinese leaders’ travel routine in multiple ways. Rather than dining out, Xi and his entourage ate regular hotel buffet. 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.
Xi was elected President of the People’s Republic of China on 14 March 2013, in a confirmation vote by the 12th National People’s Congress in Beijing. He received 2,952 for, one vote against, and three abstentions. He replaced Hu Jintao, who retired after serving two terms.
In his new capacity as president, on 16 March 2013 Xi expressed support for noninterference in China–Sri Lanka relations amid a United Nations Security Council vote to condemn that country over government abuses during the Sri Lankan Civil War. On 17 March, Xi and his new ministers arranged a meeting with the chief executive of Hong Kong, CY Leung, confirming his support for Leung. Within hours of his election, Xi discussed cyber security and North Korea with U.S. President Barack Obama over the phone, who announced the visits of Treasury and State secretaries Jacob Lew and John F. Kerryto China the following week. Within a week of his assuming the Presidency, Xi embarked on a trip to Russia, Tanzania, South Africa, and Republic of Congo.
In November 2013, at the conclusion of the Third Plenum of the 18th 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 of the massive internal security organization that was formerly the domain of Zhou Yongkang. A new National Security Commission was formed with Xi Jinping at its helm. The Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms – another ad-hoc policy coordination body led by Xi – was also formed to oversee the implementation of the reform agenda.
The reforms, termed “comprehensive deepening reforms” (全面深化改革; quánmiàn shēnhuà gǎigé) were said to be the most significant since Deng Xiaoping’s 1992 “Southern Tour”. In the economic realm, the Plenum announced that “market forces” would begin to play a “decisive” role in allocating resources. This meant that the state would gradually reduce its involvement in the distribution of capital, and restructure state-owned enterprises to allow further competition, potentially by attracting foreign and private sector players in industries that were highly regulated previously. This policy aimed to address the bloated state sector that had unduly profited from an earlier round of re-structuring by purchasing assets at below-market prices, assets which were no longer being used productively. The Plenum also resolved to abolish the laogai system of “re-education through labour” which was largely seen as a blot on China’s human rights record. The system has faced significant criticism for years from domestic critics and foreign observers. The one-child policywas also abolished, resulting in a shift to a two-child policy since 1 January 2016.
In December 2013, Xi arrived unannounced at a small Beijing restaurant to have steamed buns for lunch, with only one person accompanying him. He paid for the meal himself and dined with regular patrons. Xi was applauded for the ‘common touch’ of the visit, and images were circulated widely on social media.
Xi 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. 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. During the first two years of Xi’s term, he initiated 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.
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 one hundred 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. Within the first two years of the campaign alone, over 200,000 low-ranking officials received warnings, fines, and demotions.
Consolidation of power
Political observers have called Xi the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, especially since the ending of presidential two-term limits in 2018. Xi has notably departed from the collective leadership practices of his post-Mao predecessors, centralising his power and creating working groups with himself at the head in order to subvert government bureacracy, making himself become the unmistakable 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. 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 of the Communist Party of China, 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. According to a University of California, San Diego expert on Chinese military, Xi “has been able to take political control of the military to an extent that exceeds what Mao and Deng have done”.
On 21 April 2016 Xi was named “commander in chief” of the country’s new Joint Operations Command Center of the People’s Liberation Army by Xinhuanews agency and the broadcaster China Central Television. Some analysts interpreted this move as an attempt to display strength and strong leadership and as being more “political than military”. According to Ni Lexiong, a military affairs expert, Xi “not only controls the military but also does it in an absolute manner, and that in wartime, he is ready to command personally”.
Cult of personality
Xi has had a cult of personality constructed around himself since entering office “with books, cartoons, pop songs and even dance routines” honouring his rule. Following Xi’s ascention to the leadership core of the CPC, he has been referred to as Xi Dada (Uncle/Father Xi), as well as “mighty Uncle Xi”, echoing a greeting used in old China towards their emperors. The village of Liangjiahe, in which Xi was sent to work, has become a “modern-day shrine” decorated with Communist propaganda and murals extolling the formative years of Xi’s life.
The party under Xi announced a raft of legal reforms at the Fourth Plenum held in the fall 2014, and Xi called for “Chinese socialistic rule of law” immediately afterwards. 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. 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.
Foreign trips as President
Xi 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. Xi visited the United States at SunnylandsEstate in California in a ‘shirtsleeves summit’ with U.S. President Barack Obama in June 2013, although this was not considered a formal state visit. 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. Xi made a state visit to South Korea on 4 July 2014 and met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Between 14 and 23 July, Xi attended the BRICS leaders’ summit in Brazil and also visited Argentina, Venezuela, and Cuba.
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. Xi went on a state visit to Australia and met with Prime Minister Tony Abbott in November 2014, followed by a visit to the island nation of Fiji. Xi visited Pakistan in April 2015, signing a series of deals over infrastructure related to the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, before heading to Jakarta and Bandung, Indonesia, to attend the Afro-Asian Leaders Summit and the 60th Anniversary events of the Bandung Conference. 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.
In September 2015, Xi made his first state visit to the United States. In October 2015, Xi made a state visit to the United Kingdom, the first by a Chinese leader for a decade. 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.
In March 2016, Xi visited the Czech Republic on his way to United States of America. In Prague, he met with the Czech president, prime minister and other representatives, to promote relations and economic cooperation between the Czech Republic and the People’s Republic of China. His visit was met by a considerable number of protests by Czech people.
In January 2017, Xi became the first Chinese President to plan to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos.On January 17, Xi addressed the forum in a high-profile keynote, addressing globalization, the global trade agenda, and China’s rising place in the world’s economy and international governance; he made a series of pledges about China’s defense of “economic globalization” and climate change accords. Premier Li Keqiang attended the forum in 2015 and Vice-President Li Yuanchao did so in 2016. During the three day state visit to the country in 2017 Xi also visited the World Health Organization, the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee.
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 China such as Xi Jinping continue the rehabilitation of ancient Chinese philosophical 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 Pole 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.”
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.
Removal of term limits
In March 2018, the party-controlled National People’s Congress passed a set of constitutional amendments including removal of term limits for the President and Vice President, the creation of a National Supervisory Commission, as well as enhancing the central role of the Communist Party. On 17 March 2018, Xi was reappointed by the Chinese legislature as President, now without term limits, with Wang Qishan appointed as the Vice President. The following day Li Keqiang was reappointed Premier and longtime allies of Xi Xu Qiliang and Zhang Youxia were voted in as vice-chairmen of state military commission. Foreign minister Wang Yi was also promoted to state councillor and General Wei Fenghe was named defence minister.
According to the British Financial Times, Xi Jinping expressed his views of constitutional amendment at meetings with Chinese officials and foreign dignitaries. Xi explained the decision in terms of needing to align two more powerful posts — General Secretary of the Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) which are no term limits. However, Xi did not say whether he intended to serve as party general secretary, CMC chairman and state president, for three or more terms.
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 origin of the term “Chinese Dream” is unclear. While the phrase has been used previously by journalists and scholars, some publications have posited that the term likely drew its inspiration from the concept of the American Dream. 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.
While the Chinese Dream was originally interpreted as an extension of the American Dream, which emphasizes individual self-improvement and opportunity, 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”. The policy implications of the “Chinese Dream” remain 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.
Xi Jinping Thought
In September 2017, the Communist Party Central Committee had decided that Xi’s political philosophies, generally referred to as “Xi Jinping Thought” by western media, would become part of the Party Constitution.
Xi first made mention of the “Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” in the opening day speech delivered to the 19th Party Congress in October 2017. His Politburo Standing Committee colleagues, in their own reviews of Xi’s keynote address at the Congress, prepended the name “Xi Jinping” in front of “Thought”.
Xi himself has described the Thought as part of the broad framework created around Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, a Dengist term that places China in the “primary stage of socialism“. In official party documentation and pronouncements by Xi’s colleagues, the Thought is said to be a continuation of Marxism–Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the “Three Represents“, and the Scientific Development Perspective, as part of a series of guiding ideologies that embody “Marxism adopted to Chinese conditions” and contemporary considerations.
The concepts and context behind Xi Jinping Thought are elaborated in Xi Jinping’s The Governance of China book series, published by the Foreign Languages Press for an international audience. Volume one was published in September 2014, followed by volume two in November 2017.
Xi has reportedly taken a hard line on security issues as well as foreign affairs, projecting a more nationalistic and assertive China on the world stage. Xi’s political program calls for a China more united and confident of its own value system and political structure.
Under Xi China has also taken a more critical stance on North Korea, while improving relationships with South Korea. 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 robust stance on the issue, China declared an Air Defense Identification Zone in November 2013.
Xi has called China–United States relations in the contemporary world a “new type of great-power relations”, a phrase the Obama administration had been reluctant to embrace. 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”. 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. In 2014, Chinese hackers compromised the computer system of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, resulting in the theft of approximately 22 million personnel records handled by the office.
Xi has 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. 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.
Xi has signaled a greater interest in Central Asia as evidenced by China’s One Belt One Road initiative. Xi made the announcement while in Astana, Kazakhstan and called it a “golden opportunity”.
Xi has also indirectly spoken out critically on the U.S. “strategic pivot” to Asia. Addressing a regional conference in Shanghai on 21 May 2014, Xi called on Asian countries to unite and forge a way together, rather than get involved with third party powers, seen as a reference to the United States. “Matters in Asia ultimately must be taken care of by Asians. Asia’s problems ultimately must be resolved by Asians and Asia’s security ultimately must be protected by Asians”, he told the conference.
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. 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. Pakistan’s highest civilian award, the Nishan-e-Pakistan, was also conferred upon him.
In April 2015, new satellite imagery revealed that China was rapidly constructing an airfield on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea. In May 2015, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carterwarned the government of Xi Jinping to halt its rapid island-building in disputed territory in the South China Sea.
In spite of what seemed to be a tumultuous start of Xi Jinping’s leadership vis-à-vis the United-States, on 13 May 2017 Xi said at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing: “We should foster a new type of international relations featuring ‘win-win cooperation’, and we should forge a partnership of dialogue with no confrontation, and a partnership of friendship rather than alliance. All countries should respect each other’s sovereignty, dignity and territorial integrity; respect each other’s development path and its social systems, and respect each other’s core interests and major concerns… …What we hope to create is a big family of harmonious coexistence.”
Role of the Communist Party
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 Mao-style “Mass Line Campaign“; that is the party represents the interests of the overwhelming majority of ordinary people. In this vein, Xi called for officials to practise mild self-criticism in order to appear less corrupt and more popular among the people.
Xi’s position has been described as preferring highly centralized political power as a means to direct large-scale economic restructuring. 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 re-instituting the Mass Line Campaign 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.
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. The document was first published in July 2012. 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 the nature of Chinese style socialism. Coverage of these topics in educational materials is forbidden. The release of this internal document, which has introduced new topics that were previously not “off-limits”, was seen as Xi’s recognition of the “sacrosanct” nature of Communist Party rule over China.
Since Xi Jinping became the General Secretary of the CPC censorship has been “significantly stepped up”. Chairing the 2018 China Cyberspace Governance Conference on 20 and 21 April 2018, Xi committed to “fiercely crack down on criminal offenses including hacking, telecom fraud, and violation of citizens’ privacy.” His administration has also overseen more internet restrictions imposed in China, and is described as being “stricter across the board” on speech than previous administrations. Xi’s term has resulted in a further suppression of dissent from civil society. 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. 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. A law enacted in September 2013 authorized a three-year prison term for bloggers who shared more than 500 times any content considered “defamatory”. A group of influential bloggers were summoned 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.
In July 2017, the character Winnie-the-Pooh was blocked on Chinese social media sites because bloggers had been comparing the plump bear to China’s leader Xi Jinping. This followed an incident where Chinese authorities censored a 9-year-old for comments about Xi’s weight.
In the 19th Party Congress held in 2017, Xi reaffirmed six out of the nine principles that had been affirmed continuously since the 16th Party Congress in 2002, with the notable exception of “Placing hopes on the Taiwan people as a force to help bring about unification”. According to the Brookings Institution, Xi used stronger language on potential Taiwan independence than his predecessors towards previous DPP governments in Taiwan. In March 2018, Xi said that Taiwan would face the “punishment of history”.
Xi married Ke Lingling, the daughter of Ke Hua, an ambassador to Britain in the early 1980s. They divorced within a few years. The two were said to fight “almost every day” and, after the divorce, Ke moved to England.
Xi married the prominent Chinese folk singer Peng Liyuan in 1987. Peng Liyuan, a household name in China, was much better known to the public than Xi until his political elevation. The couple frequently lived apart due largely to their separate professional lives. Xi and Peng have a daughter named Xi Mingze, who graduated from Harvard University in the spring of 2015. While at Harvard, she used a pseudonym and studied psychology and English. Xi’s family have a home in Jade Spring Hill, a garden and residential area in north western Beijing run by the Central Military Commission.
Peng described Xi as hardworking and down-to-earth. “When he comes home, I’ve never felt as if there’s some leader in the house. In my eyes, he’s just my husband.” Peng has played a much more visible role as China’s “first lady” compared to her predecessors; for example, Peng hosted U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama on the latter’s high-profile visit to China in March 2014.Xi was described in a 2011 The Washington Post article by those who know him as “pragmatic, serious, cautious, hard-working, down to earth and low-key”. Xi was described as a good hand at problem solving and “seemingly uninterested in the trappings of high office”. He is known to love U.S. films such as Saving Private Ryan, The Departed and The Godfather. He also praised the independent film-maker Jia Zhangke.
In June 2012, Bloomberg reported that members of Xi’s extended family have substantial business interests, although there was no evidence he had intervened to assist them. The Bloombergwebsite was blocked in mainland China in response to the article. Since Xi embarked on an anti-corruption campaign, members of his family were reported by The New York Times to be selling their corporate and real estate investments beginning in 2012.
Relatives of highly placed Chinese officials, including seven current and former senior leaders of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China, have been named in the Panama Papers, including Deng Jiagui, the brother-in-law of Xi. Deng had two shell companies in the British Virgin Islands while Xi was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, but they were dormant by the time Xi became General Secretary of the Communist Party in November 2012.
- Foreign Honours
- International Olympic Committee: The Golden Olympic order (19 November 2013)
- Belgium: Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold (30 March 2014)
- Venezuela: Grand Cordon of the Order of the Liberator (20 July 2014)
- Cuba: Order of José Martí (22 July 2014)
- Pakistan: Nishan-e-Pakistan (21 April 2015)
- Saudi Arabia: Order of Abdulaziz al Saud (19 January 2016)
- Serbia: Grand Collar of the Order of the Republic of Serbia (18 June 2016)
- Belarus: Order for Promotion of Peace and Friendship (29 Sep 2016)
- Palestine: Grand Collar of the Star of Palestine (18 June 2017)
- Russia: Knight of the Order of Saint Andrew (3 July 2017)
- United Arab Emirates: Order of Zayed (20 July 2018)
- Key to the City
- Muscatine, Iowa, U.S. (26 April 1985)
- Muscatine, Iowa, U.S. (14 February 2012)
- Montego Bay, Jamaica (13 February 2009)
- San José, Costa Rica (3 June 2013)
- Mexico City, Mexico (5 June 2013)
- Buenos Aires, Argentina (19 July 2014)
- New Zhijiang Army
- One Belt One Road Initiative
- Xi–Li Administration
- Xi Jinping Thought
- General Secretary Xi Jinping important speech series
- It should be 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.
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- Original (Chinese): simplified Chinese: 在国际金融风暴中，中国能基本解决13亿人口吃饭的问题，已经是对全人类最伟大的贡献; traditional Chinese: 在國際金融風暴中，中國能基本解決13億人口吃飯的問題，已經是對全人類最偉大的貢獻-In Chinese
- Original: simplified Chinese: 有些吃饱没事干的外国人，对我们的事情指手画脚。中国一不输出革命，二不输出饥饿和贫困，三不折腾你们，还有什么好说的？; traditional Chinese: 有些吃飽沒事干的外國人，對我們的事情指手畫腳。中國一不輸出革命，二不輸出飢餓和貧困，三不折騰你們，還有什麽好說的？
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