Xi Jinping spotted in photo of 1981 war games
Image of the young future president at military parade 36 years ago went viral after he inspected more than 12,000 troops in Inner Mongolia
An old photograph showing a young Xi Jinping during a 1981 military parade has become popular with China’s online users as it documents Xi’s remarkable rise in 36 years from a personal secretary of a general to commander-in-chief of the world’s biggest military force.
The picture came to light on Sunday morning, a day after Xi, dressed in camouflage fatigues, had inspected more than 12,000 troops from an open-top jeep at Zhurihe, Asia’s largest military training base, in Inner Mongolia.
The “combat-style” parade resembled a war game in 1981, when then-Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping was trying to improve the army’s battlefield capabilities.
The photo was taken in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, with General Qin Jiwei, the former defence minister, at the centre. A few more people can be seen in the background, and one of them is Xi, then aged 28.
BBeijing-based military commentator Zhou Chenming confirmed to the South China Morning Post that the young man sitting behind Qin, then the commander of the parade, was Xi.
It remains unclear what Xi was doing in the picture, but he was entitled to watch the parade as secretary to General Geng Biao, who was secretary general of the Central Military Commission at the time.
Photos and other material highlighting the Chinese president’s early years are being released by official media outlets as part of a campaign that seeks to cement Xi’s personal authority ahead of a power reshuffle at the party’s five-yearly national congress set for this autumn.
Additional reporting: Minnie Chan