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Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times
Beijing, November 07, 2012
While the US labours over anointing a President for the next four years, China is all ready on Thursday to give birth to a new leadership through a process of conception that appears far more immaculate — on the surface. No raucous, nasty campaign, no money spend on canvassing and no poll, exit or otherwise. It’s apparently so placid that few are being able to pinpoint analytical focus on heir apparent, Xi Jinping, the tall, well-educated “princeling” with chubby face, carefully side-parted hair and a pop star wife.

Soon after, Xi, 59, was made vice-president in 2008, his name began to circulate in the foreign media as the chosen one to take over the dual mantles from Hu Jintao: first, during the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) beginning on Thursday, as the Party secretary, and early next year by virtue of his elevation, as the President of the People’s Republic of China. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/11/07_11_12-metro17c.jpg

A Taiwanese diplomat in New Delhi had mentioned to HT about a year back that barring an internal Party upheaval, Xi was sure to be leading China for the next 10 years. Xi’s elevation has all but been taken for granted by the foreign media and China experts but the state-controlled media here is going about its job without making any mention of Xi as the next President because of the secretive nature of the Party he is likely to lead, Xi’s views on political and economic issues remain an enigma.

Xi is, of course, a “princeling” or the son of a senior Communist Party leader. His father Xi Zhongxun fought with Mao Zedong and was made vice-premier till he fell in one of Mao’s political purges, to be rehabilitated during Deng Xiaoping’s tenure.

Xi grew up among the privileged elite but, like many young educated Chinese during Mao’s 1966-76 “Cultural Revolution”, was “sent down” to the countryside to live and work with peasants. For a long time, his popstar wife was more famous than Xi himself; their daughter is currently studying at Harvard University under a pseudonym.

Last week, the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) dug out, translated and released a rare interview Xi gave to a Chinese magazine 12 years ago. In the interview Xi Jinping tells about his background, his upbringing and his perception of good governance. In the introduction, Xi’s focus was on three aspects of his life:

“1) When he stayed in the countryside and by his efforts became a member of the party and enrolled at the university.
2) In 1982, he chose to give up a comfortable career in Beijing and instead started from the bottom as deputy secretary in a small provincial district.
3) To appear as one in close contact with ordinary people.”

That’s a rule he would need to live by, make an example of.

He takes over the responsibility when the Party and government problems like: a gradual slowdown of the economy, festering disputes over territory with neighbours, political scandals and factionalism within the Party.  Xi will need all his political skills to consolidate his own position in the Party and try to build a legacy of his own.