Xi Jinping: China's 'princeling' who remains enigma to world

Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping, a "princeling" and "hereditary" Communist who is now at the helm in China, is an enigma to the outside world, and even to his 1.3 billion countrymen he is known more because of his revolutionary father and a hugely popular singer wife.

Not much is known about the 59-year-old 'fifth generation' leader's views about India-China relations, the Tibet issue, global economy or climate change.

A chemical engineer-turned politician, Xi, Vice President since 2008, was named General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party at its just-concluded week-long 18th Congress and will be appointed President next March, replacing Hu Jintao, 69, in a series of carefully choreographed moves.

The run-up to Xi's ascension as China's top leader was bumpy.

In September, his nearly two-week "disappearance" – and cancelled meetings with visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other foreign officials -- fuelled speculation about his health and infighting within the CPC.

As with all Chinese leaders, details of Xi's life are tightly controlled by the government.

According to what is known, Xi was born in 1953, four years after the Chinese Communist Party defeated the ruling Nationalists and established the people's Republic of China.

He is the son from the second marriage of Xi Zhongxun, a revolutionary hero whom the then-paramount leader Mao Zedong appointed as minister of propaganda and education.

Xi Zhongxun later became a Vice Premier under Premier Zhou Enlai and Secretary General of the State Council, China's highest administrative body, before being purged in 1962.

Until then, Xi Jinping had grown up as a "princeling" in the leafy hongnanhai, the leadership compound near Beijing's Tiananmen Square, with other children of China's first generation leaders.

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