Next year, Hu Jintao is expected to step down as China’s president, leaving Xi Jinping in charge. He’s a mystery to most in his country, the New York Times notes, but he has ascended from regional leader to vice president on the strength of political savvy and family connections. The Times describes Xi as a pragmatist with a “conciliatory leadership style” who hasn’t shied from criticizing the West.
Xi is a “princeling,” descended from revolutionary elites, but as a teen, during the Cultural Revolution, he lived and worked alongside peasants, eventually becoming a local leader. “Much of my pragmatic thinking took root back then, and still exerts a constant influence on me,” he wrote. He took a series of regional leadership positions and helped grow businesses that have since boomed. Says a US businessman, impressed with Xi’s ability to prompt compromise: “I thought, ‘This person is a brilliant politician.’”