China’s new leader Xi Jinping, elected boss of the ruling Communist Party nearly four months back and President today, has carefully cultivated an image as a man of the people and statesman of vision, playing down his “princeling” status.
Xi, 59, was today elected as President of the People’s Republic and Chairman of the Central Military Commission by the 3,000-strong National People’s Congress (NPC).
Xi’s elevation comes four months after he was appointed the the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chairman of the powerful Military Commission of the party in November last.
His name is becoming more familiar but his face is still unknown to most Chinese and his opinions and intentions are an enigma. Chinese people seem to know Xi more because of his revolutionary father and a hugely popular singer wife Peng Liyuan.
A chemical engineer-turned politician, Xi, seen as a “princeling” -- a term applied to senior officials who are thought to owe at least some of their success to family connections -- replaces Hu Jintao in a series of carefully choreographed moves.
He has successfully cultivated a common man image that helps him appeal to a broad constituency.
He spent seven years in the remote northern community of Liangjiahe, in Shaanxi province, toiling alongside villagers by day and sleeping on bricks by night, in stark contrast to his pampered early years in Beijing.
In the past few months, China’s state media projected him as a man of the people and statesman of vision by highlighting his visits to remote and poverty-stricken areas across the country.
Xi in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in January had assured that his country would pay “great importance” to developing bilateral ties as their cooperation has brought “substantial benefits” to both sides.
“China will, as it has been doing, pay great importance to developing relations with India and expects to carry out close cooperation with India to create a brighter future of their bilateral relations,” Xi said.