Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is eager to show the world that he has what it takes to lead the world's second-largest economy once he's elected as President. Jinping's official visit to Washington on Tuesday has catapulted him into the international spotlight, thus providing the first glimpse of the man most likely to be China's next leader.
With regard to political aspirations, Jinping's recent meeting with Obama signaled his willingness to strengthen deeper strategic bonds between China and the U.S. They also touched on matters concerning human rights and bilateral trade issues, which the Vice President seems keen to work on.
As of now, Jinping is currently on track to become the Communist Party secretary in late 2012 and will probably replace Hu Jintao as president the following year. Jinping, as a person, remains an enigma still. Here are eight little-known facts about the man destined to lead China in the next decade.
1. Jinping is one of the so-called princelings. He was born on June 1, 1953, and spent his childhood among other children of communist leaders in Zhongnanhai at Beijing. Although hailing from an affluent family, Jinping spent a part of his childhood in a cave and labored in the fields for seven years after his father, Xi Zhongxun, fell victim to one of Mao's purges in the 1960s, LA Times reported.
2. Jinping studied chemical engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing but never worked in the related field. He later majored in Marxist theory and ideological education, thereby making Jinping one of the few leaders in China educated in humanities. He also served in poor rural areas of Hebei as a party secretary.
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3. Jinping is married to famed celebrity folk singer Peng Liyuan, who is also the director of the People's Liberation Army troupe. Liyuan, better known to the public than Jinping, has retreated into the background since his political elevation. She is Jinping's second wife.
4. According to a Reuters' report, which is based on unpublished material from WikiLeaks, Jinping has two siblings - an older sister Xi An'an who resides in Canada and a younger brother, Xi Yuanping, who lives in Hong Kong. His ex-wife Ke Xiaoming, who lives in Britain, is the daughter of China's erstwhile ambassador to London. These connections, in addition to his trip to Iowa on agricultural research, 27 years ago, helped Jinping become familiar with the western culture.
5.The Vice-President's daughter is at Harvard, studying under an assumed name so as not to attract much attention, the BBC said.
6. Apparently it's not all politics for Jinping. He is known to be fond of Hollywood films such as Saving Private Ryan and The Departed. He's also praised the work of edgy filmmaker Jia Zhangke, as per the report on Reuters.
7. In a Washington Post report, China's apparent heir is described by those who worked with him as pragmatic, serious, cautious, hard-working, down to earth and low-key. They also say he is a problem-solver and a leader seemingly uninterested in the trappings of high office.
8.According to Reuters, Jinping has a reputation as Mr. Clean, having refused to divulge in corruption and bribery that's generally associated with the political system.