From Princeling To China’s Most Powerful Leader Since Mao

Set For 3rd Term, Xi


Xi Jinping was born to Xi Zhongxun, a revolutionary who served as the party’s propaganda chief

New Delhi:
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s core position in China’s political leadership was on Saturday endorsed by the Communist Party. This is expected to clear his way for an unprecedented third term.

Here’s your 10-point cheatsheet on Xi Jinping

  1. Xi was born on June 15, 1953 to Xi Zhongxun, an old revolutionary who served as the propaganda chief of the party. Compared to rest of his compatriots, Xi had a comfortable upbringing in the confines of Zhongnanhai, an area in Beijing where the top leaders of the Communist Party live. As a result of his elite background, Xi has been called a ‘princeling’, a Chinese term for children of senior Communist party officials.   

  2. Xi’s life took a drastic turn in the early 1960s when his father, until then a close aide of Mao Zedong, fell out of favour. His father was purged from the party and sent to work in a factory in Henan province. Things got worse after the Cultural Revolution, when his father was jailed and denounced as an ‘enemy of the revolution’.   

  3. Xi’s secondary education ended abruptly during the Cultural Revolution. The future leader was sent to a village as part of Mao’s plan to re-educate privileged urban youth. After living in a cave house and working as a farmer for seven years, Xi, as per many reports, developed an affinity for the rural poor. His stint in rural China, many China watchers believe, shaped his future political outlook.   

  4. After his rural stint, Xi applied to join the Communist Party ten times and was admitted in his last attempt. In the late 70s, Xi studied chemical engineering at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. Though an engineer by qualification, Xi reportedly is a lover of world literature. Between 1998-2002, he also studied Marxist theory and received a doctorate from Tsinghua University.   

  5. In 1979, Xi became the secretary of Geng Biao, the then chairman of the Central Military Commission – China’s top defence body. His first major career milestone was in 1983, when he became the party secretary of Zhengding County. Over the next 24 years, Xi served in four different provinces – Hebei, Fujian, Zhejiang and Shanghai.   

  6. In 1997, Xi became an ‘alternate member’ of the 15th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. But he received the least number of votes, reportedly due to his ‘princeling’ status. He became the governor of Fujian, a coastal province in China. His stint in Fujian was particularly noted for a major smuggling scam and his strong opposition to corruption. In 2002, he shifted to Zhejiang province and was also elected as a full member of the 16th Central Committee.   

  7. Xi’s rise to power began in 2007 when he became a member of the Politburo – the top decision-making body of the party. There were also indications that he would eventually succeed Hu Jintao as China’s leader. A year later, he came a step closer to the top job after being appointed China’s vice-president.  

  8. In November 2012, Xi ascended to the position of party general secretary, succeeding Hu Jintao. On becoming the party boss and the de-facto leader of China, Xi turned out to be the most successful ‘princeling’ in Communist China’s history. Four months later, In March 2013, he also became the President of China – the General Secretary also holds the country’s presidency – and the chairman of the Central Military Commission.  

  9. Xi has been called the most powerful Chinese supreme leader since founding father Mao Zedong. Since coming to power, Xi has pursued an extensive anti-corruption campaign, tightened internet freedoms, expanded surveillance, boosted military spending and pursued a more assertive foreign policy. However, his regime has been criticised for promoting a cult of personality around Xi, human rights violations in Xinjiang and crackdown on political protests in Hong Kong.   

  10. Xi’s ideas and theories – simply called ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ – were added to the country’s constitution in 2018, which largely focus on the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”. In a significant departure from the past, the rubber-stamp Chinese legislature in 2018 removed presidential term limits, paving the way for Xi to remain in power for life.   


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