Nearly 3,000 deputies to the national legislature made their choice on Thursday, electing Xi Jinping as the leader of China and its military.
Long applause filled the Great Hall of the People as Xi was elected president of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and chairman of the PRC Central Military Commission.
Xi’s new role follows his election on Nov. 15 last year, when he was elected general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission.
Xi is now the leader of the CPC, the state and the military.
Xi rose from his seat and bowed to the deputies. In a warm handshake, Xi was congratulated by his predecessor Hu Jintao.
Xi is the seventh Chinese president following Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, Li Xiannian, Yang Shangkun, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.
While meeting the press shortly after he became general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, Xi said the new leadership would shoulder the responsibilities for the nation, the people and the Party and he pledged to fulfill the missions entrusted by the people.
Four months into office, Xi has started with a good beginning by pushing forward a series of popular policy measures.
Xi has stressed the importance of reform and the rule of law, initiated a campaign to curb extravagance, and urged strict disciplines on the CPC and the military and an all-out effort to tackle corruption.
He also reiterated China’s policy of peaceful development and underlined opportunities that the world might get from China’s rise.
The new leadership led by Xi has won respect and trust from the Chinese people. A media commentary said “China’s ‘New Deal’ has taken shape.”
FAITH IN CHINA
Two weeks after his November election, Xi showed his confidence in leading the country while visiting the National Museum of China along with other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.
“We will surely complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects when the CPC celebrates its centenary, and turn China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious when the PRC marks its centennial,” Xi said.
“I firmly believe that the great dream of the renewal of the Chinese nation will come true,” Xi said in front of an exhibition depicting the country’s struggles over the past 170 years.
Rising from a CPC branch secretary in a village brigade, Xi fostered his experience in performing duties, dealing with domestic issues and handling foreign and defense affairs while serving higher positions.
An enterprising man, Xi knows how global and national conditions have changed and which challenges are facing the nation. His confidence in coming up with the idea of the “Chinese dream,” as well as his determination, is impressive.
“Our system will be improved and the superiority of our socialist system will be fully demonstrated through a brighter future,” Xi said. “We should have firm confidence in our path, in our theories and in our system.”
“The selection of path is a life-or-death issue for the future of the CPC,” he told the new leadership. “We should unswervingly uphold socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
He called for the new leadership to enhance their study and practice of the theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics, accelerate the construction of a moderately prosperous society, improve the people’s livelihoods, strengthen Party-building and deepen reform and opening up.
Emphasizing the importance of the rule of law in building a moderately prosperous society, Xi called on CPC members to take the lead to ensure the implementation of the Constitution and act in accordance with the law.
“The people should be able to enjoy justice and fairness in every legal case,” Xi said.
“To forge iron, one’s own self must be strong,” Xi said. “Our job is to work with all CPC members to supervise our own conduct through strict disciplines and effectively solve major problems within the Party.”
Extravagance risks the collapse of a political party, Xi said, warning that corruption has become a life-or-death challenge facing the CPC and the nation.
After becoming the general secretary, Xi promised to crack down on corruption, “restrict power by the cage of regulations” and make cadres be respectful of law and refrain from wrongdoing.
He also vowed to go after both “flies” and “tigers,” which imply corrupt low-level functionaries and big powers respectively.
A number of suspected corrupt officials have been investigated or prosecuted over the past four months.
Being the general secretary, Xi conducted his first inspection tour to southern Guangdong Province, a pioneer in China’s reform and opening up more than three decades ago.
Many interpreted the move as a strong sign to continue the country’s reform and opening-up drive.
To bring the “Chinese dream” to fruition, the country needs to continue its reform and opening-up drive, a point Xi reiterated during his trip to Guangdong and in group studies conducted for the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.
“We’ll never stop reform and opening up,” Xi said. “We must waste no time in deepening reforms in key areas.”
Some of the reforms China needs to carry out include transforming government functions and streamlining the administrative system.
At the second plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee held in February, Xi stressed that the government should figure out what it should do and not do in changing its functions.
Different roles and responsibilities of the government, the market and the society should be clearly defined, but the service of the government to the people should never change, Xi said.
Sustainable, high-quality economic growth is also imperative for the “Chinese dream,” as China is now the world’s second-largest economy.
“Future growth must be tangible and not exaggerated,” Xi said. “It should be sustainable with good performance and good quality.”
He urged accelerating the adjustment of China’s economic structure and the transformation of its mode of economic development, adding that the country must implement an innovation-driven strategy for future development that focuses on growth quality and performance.
As chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission, Xi said a strong military is needed for the great renewal of the Chinese nation. He has demonstrated his strategic thinking on how to consolidate national defense and build strong armed forces.
For the past four months, Xi has inspected the army, navy, air force, second artillery corps and armed police, boarding warships and combat vehicles.
During an inspection tour to the Guangzhou Military Theater of Operations in December, Xi emphasized that soldiers must be loyal to the CPC and abide by the law.
“The armed forces need to be ready to assemble at the first call of the CPC and be capable of fighting and winning any battle,” Xi said while inspecting the Lanzhou Military Area.
While vowing to never allow the country’s national sovereignty, security and development interests to be infringed upon, Xi reiterated that China will always remain a staunch force in upholding world peace, as the nation suffered from wars in the past.
“We will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion,” he said.
When he met CY Leung and Chui Sai On, chief executives of the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, respectively, last year, Xi said he expects contributions from compatriots in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan in realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
During his February meeting with Lien Chan, honorary chairman of the Kuomintang, Xi stressed the CPC’s confidence in carrying forward the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations.
The new leadership has full confidence in overcoming difficulties and bringing new prospects for the cross-Strait relations, he said.
“We sincerely hope Taiwan can develop along with the mainland and compatriots from both sides of the Strait can join hands in realizing the ‘Chinese dream,'” he said.
Xi is anything but an unfamiliar name to the rest of the world, as he appeared on the international stage multiple times in recent years.
Since the 1980s, he has visited more than 60 countries and regions to gain experience and seek cooperative opportunities.
After he was elected vice president in 2008, Xi visited more than 40 countries and regions and became increasingly skilled in handling complicated international issues.
Shortly after he served as the top CPC leader last year, Xi met with foreign experts working in China and sought their views and suggestions on China’s development.
“China is ready to learn from the achievements of all other cultures,” he said.
Since November last year, Xi has met delegations from the United States, Russia, the Republic of Korea and Japan, and representatives from the United Nations, the African Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
His confident and pragmatic approach has made him well-known among foreign diplomats.
He reassured the world of China’s peaceful development with his ideas regarding win-win cooperation and mutual benefit.
Since China and the world share common interests, the “Chinese dream” cannot be realized without peace and development in the world, Xi said.
A prosperous and stable world community offers opportunities to China, while China’s development presents great opportunities to the world, he said.
He called for other countries also to engage in peaceful development in order to develop peaceful coexistence.
“No country should assume that we will trade our core interests for benefits, nor will we swallow the ‘bitter fruit’ of harming our sovereignty, security or development interests,” he said.
In his first public speech after being elected the general secretary in November, Xi showed his leadership style by reaching out to ordinary people and highlighting the role the people have played.
Xi considers the people to be a source of strength and vows to stand by them in good times and bad.
“Our people have an ardent love for life. They wish to have better education, more stable jobs, more income, greater social security, better medical and health care, improved housing conditions and better environment,” Xi said in the speech.
“They want their children to grow well, have ideal jobs and lead a more enjoyable life,” he said. “To meet their desire for a happy life is our mission.”
Xi has been concerned with the smog that affected people in many parts of the country. He ordered measures to cope with the air pollution, and asked government departments to join all sectors in the society to build a “Beautiful China.”
On Dec. 1, 2012, the World AIDS Day, Xi visited a community clinic in Beijing, and shook hands with HIV carriers and AIDS patients, stressing that the whole society must be involved in fighting the disease, and every patient must be taken care of.
Shortly before the Spring Festival, Xi took to Beijing streets to give holiday regards to subway workers, sanitation workers, police officers and taxi drivers.
“I know that you cannot rest during the holiday, so I come here to see you,” Xi told them.
For the past decades, Xi has immersed himself in the populace and strived to work for the benefit of the people.
“To solve problems in China, we should rely on not only the CPC and the government, but also the 1.3 billion people,” he said.
In line with the down-to-earth style he has advocated, Xi has traveled to poor counties and villages for visiting the most needy people.
In order to get a real picture of poverty, Xi, after assuming general secretary, traveled three times to areas that are “extremely impoverished.”
“The general secretary is easy-going and he talks like any one of us,” 69-year-old farmer Tang Rongbin said while recalling Xi’s visit to his home in Hebei Province.
“We chatted for half an hour. He asked me how many TV channels I can watch, and whether I can make long-distance calls with my landline,” Tang said. “He’s like an old friend of mine.”
Xi brought cooking oil, flour, quilts and coats to families in the village of Luotuowan in Hebei during his visit in December.
“Without prosperity in rural China, particularly those impoverished areas, we can’t complete building a moderately prosperous society in all respects,” Xi said.
Xi is also open-minded and never stops learning from ordinary people and those with expertise.
During his visit to Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, he talked with government officials and corporate managers to prepare for the central economic work conference which was held shortly afterward.
At the end of 2012, he visited leaders of non-Communist parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce to discuss ways to improve the system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC.
For the past four months, Xi has chaired four group study sessions for the members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. He sought opinions and suggestions from experts and officials from various departments on issues pertaining to the Party and the country.
Turning 60 years old this year, Xi is at an age when a person can be more tolerant of criticism, according to traditional Chinese wisdom. He also asked CPC members to be more tolerant of sharp criticism.
He has asked CPC organizations at all levels to accept comments and supervision from the public in order to improve their work.
“We should let the people see the tangible changes and results of our work,” Xi said.
While working in localities, Xi often cited an ancient poem written by Yang Wanli of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) to prepare himself for the hardship ahead:
“Don’t say downhill no obstacles before you lie,
Misleading wayfarers to be happy and gay!
You are surrounded by ten thousand mountains high:
One mountain lets you pass, another bars your way.”
While China speeds toward completing the construction of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, his sense of hardship remains with him as Xi sees the following challenges:
— How can the government turn the people’s aspirations for a wonderful life into concrete measures and administer the country properly?
— Since deepening reform and opening up has become a national consensus, how should the government go further in reform?
— Since it is a solemn pledge of the CPC to keep officials, the government and politics upright, clean and free from corruption, how can the CPC strengthen supervision and guard against corruption in practice?
Xi has resurrected a slogan that started to be used 20 years ago in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, where a series of breakthroughs in the country’s reform and opening up drive were made.
“Empty talk is harmful to the nation, while practical jobs can help it thrive,” he said, encouraging the CPC and the people to be practical, deal with concrete matters and turn visions into reality.
Xi has been seen as a leader with firm beliefs, strategic vision, a sense of hardship and a pragmatic style after coming up with the concept of the “Chinese dream” and vowing to deepen reform and opening up, ordering officials to reduce extravagance and taking drastic measures to crack down on corruption.
Xi presided over meetings of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee that resulted in the issuance of explicit requirements on how Political Bureau members should improve their work style in eight aspects, including rejecting extravagance, formalism and bureaucratism.
“We must start with specific things and ensure their implementation,” he said.
The Political Bureau took the lead in setting an example, followed by CPC and government departments at all levels. Many officials said they have been under great pressure after the implementation of the rules.
“Work styles are not a trifling thing. If we do not resolutely correct poor working styles, they will separate the CPC from the masses like an invisible wall. The CPC will lose the root of its power like a man losing his blood,” Xi said at one meeting.
He emphasized that the eight provisions are not the highest standards, but the first step for the CPC to improve its work style.
Xi has set an example through his own deeds.
When making inspections, he required no road closures in order to minimize disturbance to local residents. When he arrived, there was no welcoming pomp and receptions were reduced to simplicity.
Security personnel and escorts were kept to a minimum in order for him to learn the real situation. He also asked local governments not to rehearse visits or stage fake inspections to flatter higher authorities.
He turned down suggestions for him to stay at a better hotel when he inspected Fuping County in Hebei Province in late December.
“Do not make a fuss over where to stay,” he said, “it’s all right.”
The public has noticed that conferences were cut short and officials were accompanied by fewer people.
Business has declined at posh restaurants, as more officials are being thrifty and the idea of living a simple life is winning public support.
He has vowed to stop using public money in excessive spending and penalize violators in this regard.
“We are closer than in any other time of history to the goal of rejuvenating the Chinese nation. We are more confident and capable of achieving this goal than in any other period of history,” Xi said.