China's New Leader Xi Jinping: A Man Of The People?

 @mflorcruzm.florcruz@ibtimes.com
on December 27 2012 9:38 AM
Xi Jinping
China's President Xi Jinping during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing REUTERS

China is embarking on a journey that citizens hope will mark more than just change in leadership, but also a step toward real political and social reforms. Part of this process may involve the "humanizing" of the political elites who run Beijing.

Xinhua News Agency, China's state-run media, has released profiles of the nation's new leaders accompanied with personal photos, which is unusual given the extreme privacy that China's rulers have historically enjoyed.

The series of in-depth reports started with China's future leader, Xi Jinping.

An article, entitled "Xi Jinping: Man of the people, statesman of vision," probably had the intention of shedding light on the private lives of China's top decision-makers, but was mostly criticized by foreign media as being thinly veiled pro-government propaganda.

The Wall Street Journal said that media report fawned over the leaders and instead served as a reminder of the great lengths China's government needed to go to connect with the people.

The article strongly pushed the notion that Xi was indeed a "man of the people" who came from relatively humble beginnings, worked in a remote area of China among peasants, and who's political success was self-made.

The profile attempted to shy away from Xi's "princeling" social status, China's version of old-money blue bloods who have had their successes paved for them from birth, because they are often criticized for their inability to connect to the common person.

The lengthy report mostly detailed Xi's political roots, which have allegedly developed his "understanding of the conditions of his country and people," referring specifically to the time he lived in rural northern China working on a farm. Photos of him as a teenager and as a young low-ranking politician, slowly climbing the Party ranks, accompanied the lengthy Xinhua report.

However, instead of showing the man outside of politics, and taking an opportunity to humanize the future leader of the world's second biggest economy, the report did not stray far from the lofty plans Xi has to tackle China's multitude of problems:

Regarding economic development, Xi opposes runaway growth and instead is seeking sustainability in terms of both resources and the environment for the nation.

On political development, Xi says all power belongs to the citizens, and firmly believes in adhering to the socialist path with an emphasis on state laws.

In terms of social development, Xi affirms that improving the livelihoods of the citizens can be achieved through economic development and that he strives to "build a harmonious society."

Xi's stance on the various topics will not come as a surprise, as he mentioned them in his first address to the public after his appointment as China's next leader at the end of the National People's Congress in November. However, though his plans are what the Chinese want to hear, the words will likely amount to empty promises to a skeptical nation.

However, since taking the helm in November, Xi has minimized bureaucracy and reduced the ostentatious pageantry surrounding official visits -- gestures that might suggest Xi is indeed committed to some kind of reform.

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