Xi Jinping: China's leader is a man of the People’s Republic

The President  has set a frenetic pace to tackle grave challenges and burnish a populist image

Beijing

Xi Jinping looks more powerful than any Chinese leader in recent decades as his government prepares to deliver its first-year report card on Wednesday, but a deadly weekend knife attack by alleged separatists was a reminder of the serious challenges facing his administration.

In recent weeks, China’s President has put himself in charge of three policy-setting panels: a new top-level party committee focused on steering state security, a panel on driving sweeping economic reforms, and another on cybersecurity. At the same time he has burnished his populist image with unannounced public strolls to mix with ordinary folks and provide photos ops.

The moves come as Mr Xi tries to better position the Communist Party to respond to grave challenges that test his leadership.

Only a year in office, Mr Xi is already seen as having consolidated more power than his predecessors. His leadership roles in the three policy-setting panels give him influence over police, intelligence and military operations, the reform effort and internet controls.

He’s also waged an expansive anti-corruption campaign that has felled high-level officials around the country, winning him kudos from  the public.

“Xi Jinping is a man in a bit of a hurry who really wants to do something,” said Steve Tsang, a political scientist at the University of Nottingham. “The general secretary of the party is using the party to take control and deliver.”

Mr Xi’s moves make him a more aggressive leader than his predecessor Hu Jintao, regarded as bland and increasingly weak toward the end of his decade in power while stymied by factional infighting.

As head of the state security committee, Mr Xi will be better placed to command law enforcement agencies in responding to emergencies such as those involving a simmering anti-Chinese rebellion among the Turkic-speaking Uighur ethnic minority in Xinjiang. Tensions spread to Kunming, a city 900 miles away to the south, on Saturday when assailants went on a knife-attack rampage at a train station, killing 29 people.

Few details about the committee have been released other than that it is headed  by Mr Xi, with China’s number two and number three leaders as his deputies, making it a law enforcement coordination super-agency with unprecedented powers.

Even as he amasses power, Mr Xi has also been tirelessly fashioning himself as a man of the people – a challenge  for someone who as the  offspring of the party’s revolutionary elite enjoys “princeling” status.

He visited a subway control room in Beijing last week and called on factory workers. He strolled along traditional alleyways and chatted with residents in their living rooms, asking them afterward if they wanted “a group photo”.

“I grew up near here, so today I’m here to see the old neighbourhood,” Mr Xi said.

Last month, he braved freezing temperatures and snow to shake hands with army troops patrolling China’s border with Mongolia.

Experts say that Xi’s confidence is unlikely to change the way China is ruled – by a collective leadership.

Their consensus-based decision-making at the highest levels has been seen as the best way to prevent a party chief from becoming a dictator. But “he has the guts to do some things that some other leaders, collective leaders, would not do”, said Cheng Li, at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

Read more:
Comment: talks between China and Taiwan can only be a step forward

AP

Voices
voices
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried