Xi Jinping, 59, has begun assuming power as China’s top leader in a once-in-a-decade transition that began this fall. The son of a onetime Vice Premier, Xi was helped in his rise by his Communist Party pedigree. But it has also hurt him. As a teenager, he was sent to live in a cave and work on a farm for seven years after his father was purged by Mao Zedong in 1962. With a famous singer wife, Xi is more colorful than China’s outgoing leader, Hu Jintao. But to rise through China’s political hierarchy, Xi has had to sing both conservative and reformist tunes, making his true political leanings hard to decipher. But like the leaders before him, he wants to build a powerful China with the Communist Party unquestionably in charge.
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