At the 18th Communist Party Congress on 8 November 2012 it was decided that Xi Jinping will become the next president of People’s Republic of China. He took over reins from Hu Jintao on 14 March 2013. Here are 10 interesting facts about China’s president Xi Jinping.
#1 Xi is the son of revolutionary hero Xi Zhongxun
Born on June 1, 1953, Xi Jinping is the son of one of the heroes of the Chinese communist revolution and former vice premier Xi Zhongxun. Xi’s early childhood was like a ‘princeling’ with other children of China’s top leaders.
#2 He was banished to countryside when he was 15
In 1962, Xi Zhongxun was accused of leading an anti-party group for supporting the Biography of Liu Zhidan. Hence when Jinping was 10, his father was purged by Mao from all leadership positions and sent to work in a factory. Things became worse a few years later as his father was jailed during the Cultural Revolution. At the age of 15, Xi Jinping was caught in Mao Zedong’s Down to the Countryside Movement. He was among the 30 million “sent-down youth,” forced to leave cities for the countryside and mountains. There he worked as an agricultural laborer for seven years from 1969 to 1975. Mao died in 1976 and the Cultural Revolution came to an end. Jinping’s father was reinstated and became party secretary of Guangdong.
#3 Jinping is the only Chinese president to have a Ph.D.
Xi Jinping studied chemical engineering from 1975 to 1979, at the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing but he never worked in a related field. He later majored in Marxist theory and ideological education at Tsinghua Humanities Institute. Xi Jinping is one of the few leaders in China who is educated in humanities and is the only Chinese president to have a Ph.D.
#4 He caused a controversy in 2008 by accusing ‘foreigners’
On 15 March 2008, Xi Jinping was elected as Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China. While on a tour to Mexico as Vice President, Xi made a rather direct accusation to ‘foreigners’ in his speech. He remarked, “There are some bored foreigners, with full stomachs, who have nothing better to do than point fingers at us [China]. First, China doesn’t export revolution; second, China doesn’t export hunger and poverty; third, China doesn’t come and cause you headaches, what more is there to be said?” His non-diplomatic remarks led a series of discussion on internet forums.
#5 Xi Jinping became President of China in March 2013
Xi was elected President of the People’s Republic of China on 14 March 2013. He received 2,952 for, one vote against, and three abstentions. In November Xi started far-reaching reforms in both economic and social policy, which were termed as the most significant reforms since those made by Deng Xiaoping in 1992. The one-child policy was also relaxed, allowing two children per family where one parent is an only child.
#6 He has the reputation of being Mr Clean
In a The Washington Post article in 2012, Xi Jinping was described by those who know him as “pragmatic, serious, cautious, hard-working, down to earth and low-key.” He also has a reputation as Mr Clean, having refused to divulge in corruption and bribery that’s generally associated with the political system.
#7 He started a far-reaching campaign against corruption
Xi vowed to crack down corruption almost immediately after he ascended to power. He backed his words by initiating an unprecedented and far-reaching campaign against corruption during which over fifty provincial-ministerial level officials were implicated. In 2014, Xi announced a raft of legal reforms to improve the system which was being increasingly perceived as corrupt and ineffective. Among other things, the reforms called for a greater role of the constitution on the affairs of state and more transparency in legal proceedings
#8 His wife is the famous Chinese folk singer Peng Liyuan
Xi’s first marriage which took place in the early 1980s ended in a divorce a few years later. In 1987, Xi married to the famous Chinese folk singer Peng Liyuan. Peng is a household name in China and was much better known than her husband Xi, until his political elevation. Xi’s daughter Xi Mingze entered the Harvard University in 2010. She did so under a pseudonym to prevent attracting much attention.
#9 Xi led the preparations of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics
Jinping was in charge of the preparations of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games which were a huge success. Xi is known to have praised the works of edgy filmmaker Jia Zhangke. He is fond of Hollywood films such as Saving Private Ryan and The Departed. He is also reported to be a fan of The Godfather movies.
#10 He is being considered as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao
Political observers have called Xi “the most powerful Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping” with former Australian P.M. Rudd calling him the most powerful leader since Mao. Jinping has appeared in the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world several times since 2009. New Statesman listed Jinping at number 4 in their annual survey of “The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures 2010”.