Xi Jinping's appointment to the standing committee of the politburo positions him a step away from the Chinese presidency, but the man slated to rule the world's largest nation from 2012 to 2022 is an unknown quantity, writes the Guardian. The unspectacular Shanghai party boss has "no particular policies," says one China scholar, and got to the top by being "as bland as possible."
Xi's father was a vice-premier under Mao Zedong but later imprisoned for 16 years, and the young Xi was sent to the countryside for reeducation. Later he gained a doctorate from Tsinghua, the elite school that Hu Jintao also attended. A consensus candidate after Hu's chosen successor proved unpalatable to rival camps, Xi remains almost completely unknown in China—unlike his wife, a huge music star.