Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping shē jēnpēng [key], 1953–, Chinese political leader, b. Beijing. He is the son of Xi Zhongxun (1913–2002), a founder of China's Communist guerrilla movement who served as minister of propaganda and education and then deputy premier before falling out of favor with Mao Zedong and being purged in the early 1960s; Xi's father later became a promarket reformer. During the Cultural Revolution, Xi Jinping was sent to the countryside, where he was a manual laborer for six years. After joining (1974) the Communist party, he resumed his education, graduating (1979) from Tsinghua Univ.; he later (2002) earned a doctorate in law. Xi rose rapidly through the party ranks, serving in various government and party positions including governor of Fujian (2000) and Shanghai party chief (2007), and becoming known for his anticorruption and probusiness policies. In 2007 Xi was appointed to the standing committee of the party's political bureau. He was named China's vice president in 2008 and vice chairman of the central military commission in 2010.

In 2012 Xi succeeded Hu Jintao as party general secretary and central military commission chairman; Xi became China's president in 2013. Xi moved more assertively than Hu or Hu's predecessor Jiang Zemin to establish his control over the party and government. Under his leadership dissidents and perceived political opponents continued to be subject to arrest and trial, and the party increased its oversight the media and educational system. A prolonged, wide-ranging anticorruption campaign, at least partly aimed at Xi's opponents and marred by accusations of torture and forced confessions, was mounted. His presidency also has been marked by an emphasis on modernization, continued economic development, and increased international assertiveness. His Belt and Road Initiative, a cooperative infrastructure development program focused on expanding Chinese trade and influence and involving Chinese loans and construction companies, has been both welcomed and criticized, particularly with respect to nations that have been left with burdensome debt. In 2015 he became the first Chinese leader to meet with the president of Taiwan.

Xi's power and stature within China were marked by a 2016 declaration that named him China's core leader, and by 2017 he had become China's most powerful leader since Mao. In 2018 his election to a second presidential term coincided with the removal of the two-term limit on the Chinese presidency.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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