Such is the insistence of discipline, rigidity and toeing the politburo line in China, it could be argued that it is hard to distinguish between the country's three previous premiers. Xi, however, is seen as someone who "shuns the usual trappings of power," and has been praised for imposing an austerity drive and anti-corruption crusade on state officials. The voting was almost unanimous, with President Xi gaining 99.86% of today's vote, with the remaining 0.14% comprising of one vote against, and three abstentions. Did Xi's natural modesty prevent him from casting a vote in his own favor?
With the thorny subject of North Korea one of the larger bundles of papers in the new president's in-tray, as well as the ongoing cyber war between the U.S. and China, Xi will be busy. His country has already weighed in with the diplomatic equivalent of a proposed excommunication: this morning it told the new Pope, Francis I, that improved Chinese-Vatican relations could only be achieved the Roman Catholic church ended its relationship with Taiwan.
The fact that China's incoming president, Xi Jinping, is set to visit Africa on his first foreign trip is a strong indication of where Sino-African relations are headed. But as Beijing focuses on building African industry, Washington has other plans.
At a recently held meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, China’s leaders unveiled a dramatic long-term plan to integrate some 400 million countryside dwellers into urban environments, by concentrating growth-promoting development in small- and medium-sized cities. In stark contrast to the neglected emphasis on infrastructure development in the United States and Europe, China spends around $500 billion annually on infrastructural projects, with $6.4 trillion set aside for its 10-year mass urbanization scheme, making it the largest rural-to-urban migration project in human history.
China’s leaders have mega-development in focus, and realizing such epic undertakings not only requires the utilization of time-efficient high-volume production methods, but also resources – lots and lots of resources. It should come as no surprise that incoming Chinese president Xi Jinping’s first trip as head of state will take him to Africa, to deepen the mutually beneficial trade and energy relationships maintained throughout the continent that have long irked policy makers in Washington.
He was held under house arrest until 1978, while his son was sent, at the age of 16, to work on a farm in Shaanxi, then one of China's poorest provinces. The farmers liked him: he won wrestling matches against them and was able to carry shoulder poles of heavy 110lb buckets across the mountains.
He left seven years later, as the Cultural Revolution ended. Later, he said: "It was emotional. It was a mood. And when the ideals of the Cultural Revolution could not be realised, it proved an illusion."
He then studied chemical engineering at Tsinghua university and joined the army upon graduation. His path to the top has taken him through almost every level of administration in the provinces of Hebei, Fujian, Zhejiang and saw him briefly run Shanghai. In Hebei, he was nicknamed "God of Wealth" after building a theme park based on Journey to the West, the Chinese classic. He also developed a reputation for cutting through red tape.
Described by many as a good man, and as a chip off the old block, Mr Xi has been opaque about his beliefs or policies, whether economic or political.
However, he has closer ties to the West than his predecessor, Hu Jintao. His first wife is thought to live in England, the daughter of a former Chinese ambassador to London. He has a sister in Canada, and his daughter with Pei Liyuan, a Chinese folk singer, is studying at Harvard university.
In 2008, he became Vice-President of the People's Republic of China. In 2010 he became Vice-Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission and Vice-Chairman, Central Military Commission of the PRC.
In 2012 he became General Secretary of the 18th CPC Central Committee a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the 18th CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission.
HOPES IN XI
Since taking up the much more powerful post of party chief last November, Xi has focused on fighting corruption and promoting austere practices such as banning senior military officers from holding alcohol-fuelled banquets.
Many Chinese hope Xi will bring change in a country that has risen to become the world's second-biggest economy but is marred by deepening income inequality, corruption and environmental destruction left over from the administration of Hu and Wen.
Xi, in contrast, spent 17 years (1985 to 2002) rising through the ranks of economically dynamic Fujian Province, on China’s east coast, opposite Taiwan, and then five years (2002 to 2007) in neighboring Zhejiang Province, an export hub known for its freewheeling private businesses. Those jobs preceded his hurried six-month stint as Party Secretary of nearby Shanghai just before his elevation to the Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee in 2007. In those three local posts, Xi was never seriously tested managing unrest or ethnic minority issues, although in Fujian he did have to deal with the repercussions of a major corruption scandal in Xiamen, and in Shanghai he was brought in to restore morale after another corruption scandal claimed the previous party secretary. Xi’s time in Fujian gave him a nuanced understanding of the People’s Republic of China’s complicated relationship with Taiwan, which is located across the Taiwan Strait from Fujian. But the Fujian and Zhejiang jobs focused on trade and investment issues, generally considered more the bailiwick of premiers than Party general secretaries. Moreover, while Xi spent time in poorer areas of China, it was in low-level posts and at the start of his career. At age 15, at the height of Mao Zedong’s “Cultural Revolution,” Xi was sent to work as an educated youth in the Shaanxi countryside in north China. By the time he left, at age 22, he had been promoted to a local party secretary. Later, between the ages of 29 and 32, he served as a county-level Party official in another rural area, in Hebei Province near Beijing.
Mr Xi's family background will also be a mixed blessing. He is the son of the late Xi Zhongxun, a veteran of the party's early days and a senior official under Deng who was purged during the Cultural Revolution. This makes him a member of what the Chinese sometimes call the "princeling party", a loose-knit group composed of the offspring of the communist era's founding fathers and other leading officials...
The U.S.-China relationship will continue to be dominated U.S. complaints about China’s undervalued currency; the civil war in Syria, on which China has vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions; Iran’s nuclear program; cybersecurity; human rights; and Chinese concerns over the U.S.’ Asia “pivot,” which, despite assurances from the Obama administration is widely viewed in China as an attempt to check its rise.
In a move that came as a surprise to no one, the National People’s Congress’ nearly 3,000 delegates elected 59-year-old Xi Jinping as president of China, replacing 70-year-old Hu Jintao, on March 14 in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. He is expected to serve two five-year-terms, following precedent. The vote: one against, three abstentions, and 2,952 in favor.
Vice President Xi Jinping, 57, boosted his chances of succeeding President Hu Jintao in 2013 when he was promoted Monday evening to a key post seen as the penultimate step on the ladder to the top job.
The son of a revolutionary hero and former vice premier, Mr. Xi is a prominent "princeling" whose political and family connections have served him well in his rise through the ranks of the ruling Communist party.