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The fall and rise of China’s Xi
Mao-era outcast is president-to-be
A Xi administration is expected to pursue a more forceful foreign policy based on Beijing’s belief that chief rival Washington is in decline and that China’s rise to global pre-eminence is within reach.
“Xi was chosen in part because he has the large, assertive, confident personality to lead in that kind of strategy,” said Andrew Nathan, a specialist on Chinese politics at New York’s Columbia University.
Mr. Xi will confront daunting challenges.
After two decades of fast-paced growth and social change, the economy is flagging, and China is under strain. A polarizing gap has left a few wealthy and many struggling and resentful.
Rampant corruption is corroding already low reserves of public trust in officialdom.
Beyond home, China is locked in sharp elbowing over territory with Japan and Southeast Asian neighbors. At the same time, Beijing feels hemmed in by the U.S., which is shoring up ties with countries on China’s edge.
From chemistry to politics
The son was dispatched to rural Shaanxi province in 1969 as part of Mao’s campaign to toughen up educated urban youth during the chaotic Cultural Revolution. When caught returning to Beijing, he was sent to a labor camp for six months.
Back in Liangjiahe, he helped build irrigation ditches.
“Knives are sharpened on the stone. People are refined through hardship,” Mr. Xi said in a rare 2001 interview with a Chinese magazine. “Whenever I later encountered trouble, I’d just think of how hard it had been to get things done back then, and nothing would then seem difficult.”
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