Xi’s political path shows pragmatic style

Standing before the Golden Gate Bridge, a San Francisco landmark, Xi Jinping, in a photo released Sunday by Xinhua, looks like sunny young man on his maiden visit to the United States.

The young county chief, with his hair being ruffled by sea wind, was not in the U.S. for tourism, but in hopes of bringing advanced managerial expertise back to Zhengding, a mainly farming county 280 kilometers southwest of Beijing.

Xi’s visit came six years after China embraced the policy of reform and opening up to the outside world.

Xi, now general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, plunged into market-oriented reforms as soon as he began his political career, with keen determination.

He prevailed over all dissenting views, not without difficulty, by tapping into the market potential made possible by one of China’s earliest TV series productions, which was based on the classic novel “The Dream of Red Mansions,” sometimes known as “The Story of the Stone” overseas.

Xi championed building a real-life residential compound reminiscent of ancient China to serve as the set for the TV production, even though it required a large investment. The cultural industry, a vibrant sector now, was all but Greek to Chinese officials at the time. However, Xi was confident that such a compound could be used for other productions and would become a popular tourist attraction due to love of the Chinese for the original novel.

Xi was proved right. His Zhengding tourism model helped bring in a whopping 10 million yuan of tourist revenue within a year after the compound’s completion, and now it is a heavily visited tourist site like the Golden Gate Bridge.

Xi is a man of action and believes that “the devil is in the details.”

One can trace his governing philosophy through a picture taken in August 1993, which shows Xi talking with a middle-aged woman in a classroom-like meeting hall.

The blackboard in the background features the slogan, “Avoid empty talk and get more things done.”

Now Xi has elevated this concept to the state level. He warned that “empty talk leads a country astray, while hard work sees nations prosper,” during his Nov. 29 visit to an exhibition in Beijing on China’s challenging road to national renewal since 1840.

Xi’s pragmatic work style defined his political approach before he rose to the top leadership.

Xi worked in places with a wide spectrum of social and economic circumstances: not only an underdeveloped inland county like Ningde, but also Xiamen, a vibrant coastal city and a special economic zone in Fujian Province, and China’s most dazzling megacity of Shanghai.


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