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To the Western observer, Chinese politics often appears inscrutable. Indeed, Chinese president Xi Jinping has not made it easier for Westerners to “read” Chinese intentions and predict future moves. Yet as Richard McGregor argues in Foreign Affairs, Xi’s bold anti-corruption campaign and his aggressive power consolidation has caught even those Chinese officials who elected him by surprise. McGregor’s essay provides important background on the ascent and political convictions of China’s powerful leader. 

About the Author

Richard McGregor is a Senior Fellow at the Lowy Institute and the author of Xi Jinping: The Backlash. 

 

Summary

Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to power as a “compromise candidate.”

Xi Jinping pursued a career path typical for someone born into China’s leadership elite. He climbed through the ranks of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and became governor of the Province of Fujian in 2000 and Zhejiang in 2002.

In 2007, the party made him party secretary of Shanghai, where he emerged as a contender to become Hu Jintao’s successor. Besides appreciating his impeccable career record, party leaders believed that Xi was malleable to their policy wishes. Xi’s two rival candidates were charismatic and imposing, and their hunger for power ultimately led senior Chinese officials to accuse them of trying to take Xi out of the race. After Chinese officials charged Xi’s rivals with corruption and abuse of power, they installed Xi to the post as somewhat of a “compromise candidate.”

Xi is a devout communist who has been aggressively...


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