Xi Jinping: A Hero for China?

Xi Jinping: A Hero for China?

Xi Jinping
Xi Jinpeng

who does not allow his personal misfortunes or sufferings affect his judgment. In other words, he is impressive.–Lee Kwan Yew, Founder of Singapore.

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?Xi Jinping, Future President of China.

Hu Jintao, China’s current president, has been known all his life for his humility. It endeared him to his future father-in-law, to his employees and, ultimately, to the people of China.

Since he was a young man, Xi Jinping has been recognized for his honesty. He is almost painfully honest. Because his statement, above, which is self-evidently true, was labelled a hardline rant” by Britain’s Daily Telegraph, he doesn’t say much in public.

Both Hu and Xi are engineers. Both are enormously competent. One is ending and the other beginning the most difficult job on earth.

Xi Jinping has impeccable credentials.  His father, Xi Zhongxun, a Revolutionary hero, was imprisoned for supporting more democracy than Mao was comfortable with.

Teenaged Jinping was exiled to a hut in one of China’s poorest villages for 7 bitter years.  That’s what Lee Kwan Yu meant when he said “he does not allow his personal misfortunes or sufferings affect his judgment”.

When later asked about his experience during the Cultural Revolution, Xi recalled it saying, “…it was emotional. It was a mood. And when the ideals of the Cultural Revolution could not be realised, it proved an illusion…”.

Undiscouraged, he joined the Communist Party in 1974 while his father was still in jail, and rose through its ranks. He joined the People’s Liberation Army and worked as a secretary to the then-defense minister while on active duty at the powerful Central Military Commission.  This insight into China’s military and the friendships he formed will stand him in good stead as president.

Xi studied chemical engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing from 1975-9 and then served a long stint as a Party official in poor rural areas of Hebei, the northern province that surrounds Beijing. (He recently returned for a visit there and was apparently horrified at how little difference the Government’s programs had made, blurting out his shame and disappointment at how little had been done for the people there.

He married, but his wife divorced him, giving as her only grounds the damning word, “Boring”. Any engineer’s wife will sympathize. He remarried to someone with a life so exciting that she looked forward to coming home to a reliably boring husband: Peng Liyuan, China’s most famous singer and far better known to Chinese than her shy husband. Their daughter currently attends Harvard University.

From the mid-1980s, Xi shifted to the export powerhouse provinces and cities on China’s southeastern coast. In quick succession he rose to the top of the government in Fujian, then Zhejiang province, becoming Communist Party secretary there in 2002.


In 2007, he was named party secretary in Shanghai and sent in to mop up after his predecessor was jailed and disgraced in a massive scandal over misuse of the city’s social security funds. After a short stint in Shanghai, in the fall of 2007, Xi was elevated to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party Central, ranking 6th. on the elite nine-member group that rules China.

He was appointed China’s vice-president in March 2008. In October 2010, he added an important political title seen as a strong indication that he would succeed Hu: Vice Chairman of the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission.

American leaders who have met Xi describe him as a man of “immense competence”. If you know about the perfection of the Beijing Olympics, or its amazing opening ceremony, you will see Xi’s handiwork: he was the man in charge.

Recently Bloomberg ran a typical Western media hit piece on Xi. Bloomberg invested immense resources in tracing all the holdings of people related to Xi. They were unable to discover any wealth owned by Xi, but the implication of the article was clear: the Chinese leadership is just as corrupt as our own. The article failed to mention that his extensive family have been famous from birth thanks to their relationship to Xi Zhongxun. They were all well-educated and perfectly positioned to rise along with China as it began its meteoric ascent in 1980.  Xi chose a different path.

So it appears that China’s system of choosing leaders has produced another winner to match the retiring Hu and Wen. Another 10 years of progress, even at the reduced growth rate of 7.5%, will see China the universally acknowledged world leader in 2022. An interesting prospect, and one we have not seen before in human history.

Here’s an unconfirmed anecdote from PaPaPeng about Xi that supports what we know about Xi’s effectiveness in cleaning up Shanghai:

It was in the mid 1980s when China was first opening up.  There were few rules and scant regulatory mechanisms in place to oversee the loosening of banking transactions.  Corruption was rampant as bank officials stole and ran overseas with millions of dollars from the very banks they were managing.  There were scams galore and in all something in the order of more than $100 billions of state money was lost.

The foreign based early investors from the top Western investment houses lost big too and demanded compensation.  Many of these scams has the encouragement of the local governments and the westerners thought that meant Chinese government ownership or participation, therefore implied guarantees against fraud.  Nothing of that sort.  The local governments of course wanted investments and gave nice speeches about their localities’ investment potentials. It was up to investors to do their own due diligence.

Anyway you cannot just ignore Wall Street or THE CITY.  That’s where the money comes from.  A low level unknown Beijing bureaucrat was given the task of solving this problem.  He called together the biggest debt holders for a meeting and told them:-

“You lost millions.  We lost millions.  Neither of us are going to see that money back*.

I know you people like to sue.  You can sue us in China.  You will never win.  You can

sue us in the States or in London.  We will fight you all the way.  We may lose. You may win.

We don’t care. But do that and you will never work in China again.”

In the report that was a factoid that the Beijing bureaucrat was the husband of a famous folk singer (a general in the PLA) and bit of other biographical data that I cannot remember.  There is only one such couple that fit this description, President -in -waiting Xi Jinping.

*(I was at that time puzzled by the vehement stand taken by western governments against any request from China for details of Chinese officials who had emigrated to their countries (US, UK, Australia and NZ, and the various European states) so that their source of funds could be reconstructed.  Their flight was certainly highly suspicious as everyone in China was equally poor, without a middle class let alone millionaires.  Chinese passports were also next to impossible to get unless the travel was on official business.  The standard  western reply was they respected human rights, privacy, democracy, ad nauseam.  There was no way they would let China have these crooks and the billions they brought into their countries.)


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