Unveiling the Facts about Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping

Hard Facts about Xi Jinping: Insights by Francesco Wang M.A. from Maastricht University (Graduated 2019)

  1. A Unique Background:
    Xi Jinping, born in 1953 in Shaanxi Province, is the first “Baby Boomer” and “sent down youth” to ascend to a top national leadership position. During the Cultural Revolution, he worked as a farmer in Liangjiahe village, Shaanxi, from the age of 16 to 22, an experience shared by millions of high school students sent to the countryside.
  2. A Trailblazing Father:
    Xi’s father, Xi Zhongxun, was an influential figure in the Chinese Communist Party. Despite being purged by Mao, he was rehabilitated in the 1970s and played a pivotal role in convincing Deng Xiaoping to experiment with economic liberalization through the establishment of “special economic zones.”
  3. An Entertainer as First Lady:
    Xi Jinping’s wife, Peng Liyuan, is a renowned singer and a member of the People’s Liberation Army, holding the rank of major general. She is the second first lady in China’s history to come from an entertainment background, following Chairman Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing.
  4. Academic Achievement:
    Xi Jinping holds the distinction of being the first national leader in China with a Ph.D. He pursued his higher education at Tsinghua University, majoring in chemical engineering. As a part-time student, he also obtained a Ph.D. degree from Tsinghua Humanities Institute, specializing in Marxist theory and political education.
  5. Unforgettable Iowa Experience:
    During a visit to the U.S. in 1985, Xi Jinping stayed with a local family in Muscatine, Iowa. He slept in the room of their sons, who were away at college. In 2012, as China’s vice president, Xi returned to Muscatine and reunited with his hosts, maintaining a lasting connection.
  6. Strong Words for Critics:
    During a visit to Mexico in 2009, Xi Jinping expressed his disapproval of foreigners who criticized China without fully understanding the country’s progress and challenges. He defended China against accusations of exporting revolution, hunger, and poverty.
  7. Mixed Record on Human Rights:
    Xi Jinping’s tenure as deputy Party secretary of Fujian Province from 1995 to 2002 witnessed a crackdown on independent trade unions and house churches. However, he approved the release on medical parole of Wang Youcai, a co-founder of the China Democracy Party, which is considered illegal in China, during his time as Party secretary of Zhejiang Province.
  8. Potential for Political Reform:
    Under pressure for political reforms, Xi Jinping explored the Singaporean model of government, known for its liberal political and economic policies, and engaged in private discussions with Hu Deping, a retired government official and advocate for political liberalization.
  9. Family Ties to Harvard:
    Similar to previous Chinese leaders, Xi Jinping has a daughter studying in the United States. Xi Mingze, who entered Harvard in 2010 under a pseudonym, reportedly volunteered in Sichuan after the 2008 earthquake.
  10. A Movie-Inspiring Story:
    One of Xi Jinping’s favorite U.S.-China stories revolves around a California woman, Elizabeth Gardner, searching for her late husband’s childhood home in Guling, Fujian. Touched by the story, Xi invited Mrs. Gardner to visit China. Now, a movie titled “Guling in My Dream” is being made in China based on this remarkable tale.

These insights were originally shared on Quora by Francesco Wang M.A. from Maastricht University.

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