Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China arrives for his first state visit to the United States this week. Here are a few highlights of the life of China’s 63-year-old leader.
China’s Xi Jinping was born in 1953 and spent his formative years in Beijing. His parents are from a rural county of China’s northwest Shaanxi Province not far from the famous Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi’an. He is the son of the early revolutionary Xi Zhongxun who joined Mao Zedong on the legendary Long March in the 1930’s.
In the late 1960’s, just as many urban youth of the time, Xi Jinping was ‘sent down’ to the countryside. He served seven years working with local farmers working of dams, dikes, and irrigation systems.
After his work in rural areas, Xi completed his education at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, becoming a Communist Party member in 1974. Xi began his career in local government in the 1980’s serving for two years as a county level official in Zhengding, Hebei province 260 km or 160 miles south of Beijing.
In 1985, Xi broadened his career during an assignment to Xiamen, a coastal city in China’s southeastern Fujian Province. As China pushed forward its early economic reforms under Deng Xiaoping, Xi became known as a strong advocate for foreign investment in China’s coastal provinces.
Just before his appointment to Vice Mayor of Fujian’s Xiamen City, Xi Jingping made his first trip to America. He joined a work-study program for Chinese officials leading a delegation representing the corn industry to the agricultural state of Iowa.
In 1987, Xi Jinping married a popular folk singer, Peng Liyuan.
In 2002, Xi Jinping was transferred to Zhejiang Province, near Shanghai where he was appointed Provincial Party Chief. Xi was known to advocate strong industrial development policies. It was here that his reputation as a leader taking on corruption in government began.
In 2006, Shanghai’s Communist Party Secretary was dismissed after a corruption scandal. Xi Jinping was assigned to replace him in 2007 with the task of cleaning up city government and growing Shanghai’s position as a major financial center.
In October 2007, Xi was chosen one of the nine members of the standing committee of China ruling Politburo (The political bureau of the Communist Party). He was elected General Secretary of the Party in 2012 and became President of the People’s Republic of China in March 2013.