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Xi Jinping biography: from impoverished cave dweller to China’s president

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Xi Jinping has just become the most powerful military leader-elect to the most populous country in the world, and yet there are details that remain unknown about China’s new president.

Xi Jinping is married to the honey-voiced megastar of popular Chinese folk music, Peng Liyuan, and they have only one child together, Xi Mingze.

But while Peng Liyuan’s is still one of the most famous faces in the country, comparatively little is known of her husband, a man who spent most of his teens living in a cave, laboring in the fields of one of China’s poorest regions.

Xi Jinping is the son of Communist revolutionary general Xi Zhongxun, a comrade of Chairman Mao Zedong.

But when he was in his teens, his father fell out with the Chairman and was sent to prison.

Xi Jinping was exiled to a far-flung, rural community of Liangjiahe, in Shaanxi province, where he lived in cave-dwellings and was forced to labor in the fields. Little more than 100 miles from Beijing, it is one of China’s poorest regions.

The family lived like peasants in a cave-like house carved out of the yellow rock formations that surrounded the village.

Xi Jinping is quoted as saying no problems he has encountered in political life compare to the hardship he suffered as a young man.

But he immersed himself in local politics and soon rose the ranks before today assuming the top posts in the Communist Party and the powerful military in a political transition unbowed by scandals, a slower economy and public demands for reforms.

Xi Jinping was introduced as the new party general secretary at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People a day after the close of a week-long party congress that underlined the communists’ determination to remain firmly in power.

The once-a-decade leadership change was carefully choreographed. It became clear Xi Jinping would lead China five years ago, when he was appointed to the Standing Committee – the nation’s apex of power – as the highest-ranked member who would not be of retirement age this year.

Xi Jinping’s colleagues in the new Standing Committee are Li Keqiang, the presumptive premier and chief economic official; Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang; Shanghai party secretary Yu Zhengsheng; propaganda chief Liu Yunshan; Vice Premier Wang Qishan; and Tianjin party secretary Zhang Gaoli.

In a speech broadcast live on Chinese state TV and worldwide, Xi Jinping said: “We shall do everything we can to live up to your trust and fulfill our mission.”

Xi Jinping, China’s new president, is the son of Communist revolutionary general Xi Zhongxun, a comrade of Chairman Mao Zedong

Xi Jinping, China’s new president, is the son of Communist revolutionary general Xi Zhongxun, a comrade of Chairman Mao Zedong

Xi Jinping biography: from impoverished cave dweller to China’s most powerful man

Very little is known about Xi Jinping’s upbringing – or his rise to power.

Xi Jinping is married to a popstar called Peng Liyuan who, for most of Xi’s career, has been more famous than him.

Chinese often tell a well-known joke: “Who is Xi Jinping? Why, he is the husband of Peng Liyuan.”

He is the son of Communist revolutionary general Xi Zhongxun, a comrade of Chairman Mao Zedong.

But when he was in his teens, his father fell out with the Chairman and was sent to prison.

Xi Jinping was exiled to a far-flung, rural community of Liangjiahe, in Shaanxi province, where he lived in cave-dwellings and was forced to labour in the fields.

Little more than 100 miles from Beijing, it is one of China’s poorest regions.

The family lived like peasants in a cave-like house carved out of the yellow rock formations that surrounded the village.

Xi Jinping is quoted as saying no problems he has encountered in political life compare to the hardship he suffered as a young man.

After leaving Liangjiahe, Xi Jinping headed to the busy coastal provinces that form China’s industrial heartland.

He quickly climbed the ranks to become the most senior party official first in Fujian, before Zhejiang and finally Shanghai.


There he developed the mind for business and economics that he is known for today.

Now with exports and the economy slowing, China hopes his skills can help get the nation back on track to overtaking America and becoming the biggest economy in the world.

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