🏅The Rise of China’s Xi Jinping | History

The rise of China's Xi Jinping

The rise of China’s Xi Jinping

President Xi Jinping is China’s most powerful leader in decades.

And his plans for the rising superpower loom large over the country and its politics.

Xi’s name has been attached to the country’s slogans and initiatives that reflect its newfound strength and identity.

His vision for China’s next 3 decades – was even added to the country’s constitution in 2017.

Xi has been in power for years, but how much do we know about China’s powerful leader?

The rise of China’s Xi Jinping

Xi was born in Beijing in 1953 to Xi Zhongxun, a revolutionary who later worked alongside Mao Zedong as vice premier of China.

The elder Xi was ousted from the party in 1962, and jailed during the China Cultural Revolution a few years later.

The revolution was a decade-long push by Mao to solidify his control over the communist party and purge it of dissent.

In 1969, a teenage Xi moved from Beijing to rural China and worked alongside peasants as an agricultural laborer for several years.

As was the tradition in this rural part of China, Xi lived in a “cave house,” which is a home carved from a rocky hillside.

At first, this experience was too much for the young Xi, and he escaped back to Beijing.

Upon his return home, Xi was arrested by authorities.

It’s reportedly believed that Xi had to undergo six months of “re-education” before being sent back to his rural cave home.

Xi credits the hardships and poverty of his teenage years with giving him the perseverance that’s helped him move forward in his political life.

During this period of Xi’s life, he made several attempts at joining the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP but was rejected each time, due to his father’s poor standing with the party.

But then, when Xi turned 21, he was finally accepted to join the Party’s ranks.

By the time he was 25, his father had been freed from his imprisonment and selected to become the governor of a province on the border of Hong Kong.

During this time, Xi began to chart out his own path to power.

As he started his career, he sought to maintain good standing with the party by keeping a low profile.

He would slowly work his way up the party while avoiding the issues his father faced.

Who came into conflict with the party’s leaders and their plans for China decades prior.

He also took positions in the party that would give him leadership experience and connections that would prove to be useful later on.

For example, in 1979, Xi took a military post and served under the secretary-general of the Central Military Commission, the body that controls China’s formidable armed forces.

Later, after the end of the Cultural Revolution and its purges, millions of young people returned to China’s cities.

Xi bucked this trend when he left his influential military post and instead requested a leadership position in Zhengding, a village in the poor, rural province of Hebei.

Xi’s decision to return to rural China helped his reputation as a local leader.

To highlight his loyalty to the party, he made sure to strictly enforce national policies, like the one-child rule, at the local level.

His time in Zhengding was even memorialized in the novel “New Star,” which told the story of a young party secretary who brings modern ideas to a developing rural province.

Its protagonist was a composite character based on Xi and two other young officials.

The book became a classic, bolstering Xi’s reputation even more.

In 1985, Xi’s father arranged to have his son moved to work in coastal provinces that were major economic hubs.

In Fujian and Zhejiang, Xi learned how to balance the interests of the party and business leaders, further establishing himself as a pragmatic leader with the CCP.

While governing Zhejiang, one of China’s richest provinces, Xi encouraged factories to move further inland, and for private research and development facilities to replace them.

The plan worked, and R&D investment in the province increased by over 25 billion yuan over four years.

Xi promoted large numbers of the officials he worked with within Zhejiang, giving him a strong base of political allies within the party that survives to this day.

This successful experience helped Xi land his next high-profile promotion.

The rise of China’s Xi Jinping

In 2007, he was chosen to become party chief of Shanghai, China’s most populous city and a major commercial center.

Just a few months later, Xi’s decades of hard work culminated in a promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee, the most powerful political body in the Chinese government.

He was considered one of the most likely successors to then-President Hu Jintao.

Xi was unique among the eight-member of the Standing Committee:

While other members were either born into poverty or privilege, Xi had experienced both.

Xi’s position as a potential successor to Hu Jintao was strengthened a year later when he was put in charge of a high-level working group to prepare for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In 2012, Xi was elevated to General Secretary of the Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission.

Now, Xi had two powerful titles under his belt and embarked on an anti-corruption crackdown.

But critics say the drive wasn’t purely about fighting corruption, which had become systemic throughout the party.

The drive also served to neutralize Xi’s potential political opponents in places where his rivals had strong support:

the army, energy sectors, and China’s southern provinces, such as Sichuan.

Thousands of officials were punished for corruption, or “discipline violations,” including Bo Xilai and Sun Zhengcaiwho were two of Xi’s potential rivals.

The rise of China’s Xi Jinping

Then in 2013, the National People’s Congress elected Xi President of the People’s Republic of China.

His early Presidency was focused on using his newfound power to continue to combat corruption within the CCP.

These corruption drives helped maintain the party’s popularity in China despite the country’s slowing growth rates.

More recently, Xi’s agenda has pivoted to foreign policy, and more specifically, strengthening China’s position on the world stage.

Xi used the slogan “China Dream” to sell this agenda to the Chinese people.

Some observers say that for Xi, China’s strength will come from recovering the country’s dominance across Asia and strengthening its control over regions that the CCP considers to be “greater China” like Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Xi has long-term plans to pursue influence even further abroad.

Projects like the “Belt and Road Initiative” are integral to Xi’s goal of turning China’s economic strength into political influence.

And he’ll have plenty of time to do it.

The rise of China’s Xi Jinping

In 2018, the National People’s Congress voted to eliminate term limits that had been in place since 1982.

This means Xi could be the leader in charge of China indefinitely.

 

🏅The Rise of China’s Xi Jinping | History

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