Xi Jinping

Princeling with a record in politics

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 March, 2007, 12:00am


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When Henry Paulson made his first official visit to China as US Treasury Secretary in September, he picked Zhejiang's provincial capital, Hangzhou , as his first stop for having dinner with a rising political star he regards as a friend.

Mr Paulson had come to know provincial party secretary Xi Jinping in his many visits to the mainland when he was with US investment bank Goldman Sachs. Their meeting now takes on new significance with Mr Xi's promotion to Shanghai party chief.

A native of Shaanxi , the 53-year-old Mr Xi is the son of party elder Xi Zhongxun and one of the elite princelings. He joined the Communist Youth League in 1971 and joined the Communist Party in 1974.

He has a strong track record working at the local government level and has served in four provinces during his career: Shaanxi, Hebei , Fujian and Zhejiang.

In 2002, he became the party chief of Zhejiang, one of China's most affluent provinces which flourished on the back of robust private entrepreneurship that boasts of some of the world's biggest private manufacturers.

Last year, the province's gross domestic product grew by 13.6 per cent to 1.56 trillion yuan. That compared with Shanghai's 12 per cent growth to 1.03 trillion yuan last year.

Mr Xi's elevation is part of the wider government reshuffle ahead of the 17th party congress this autumn. His likely replacement as Zhejiang party chief, Zhao Hongzhu, is currently a deputy head of the party's Organisation Department. Little is known of Mr Zhao, whose career has included a spell as a vice-minister of the Ministry of Supervision. Mr Zhao joined the party in 1969 and began his career in Inner Mongolia until he was appointed as a deputy research head at the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection in 1992.

Another prominent promotion is that of 61-year-old Zhang Gaoli , who will take over as party chief of Tianjin , the new regional hub of economic development supported by Beijing. Mr Zhang is a native of Fujian and joined the party in 1973.

In 1988, he moved to Guangdong to take up various posts before being appointed Shenzhen party secretary in 1997. During his Shenzhen tenure, Mr Zhang pledged to step up co-operation with Hong Kong through infrastructure projects, hi-tech industries, environmental protection, financial industries and tourism.

Three years later, he moved north to take up the position of deputy governor of Shandong province .