The heir apparent to the Chinese presidency is visiting the White House today on the first leg of his visit to the US. Xi Jinping, who is currently vice-president, is widely expected to replace Hu Jintao in October. So who is Jinping? Mostly, he is a party insider with roots in the cultural revolution. “Although the party might not be ecstatic about Xi…his elevation will alienate the smallest number of elites.” He has begun his US visit by praising economic ties while expressing caution over American military buildup in the South Pacific.
What’s the Big Idea?
In his youth, Jinping was a member of the cultural revolution. He left Beijing for a pig farm in the backward province of Shaanxi, where he quickly became his village’s party secretary. He slowly rose through the ranks of the Communist party, avoiding scandals that felled his contemporaries. But unlike the US, where candidates try to portray an outsider image, Jinping’s long party history represents stability, an important quality in a country where social discontent is a threat to both the ruling party and economic growth.