Biggest Stories of the Decade - The Rise of Xi Jinping

In our series on the biggest scoops of the 2010s, Tomo Clarkson considers the man at the helm of China

Tomo Clarkson
2nd December 2019
Image: President of Russia website
When Xi Jinping stepped out at the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party as China’s new leader, no-one expected the radical changes that were to come. Now, he is the most powerful man in China since Mao.

Born the son of an official who was eventually purged, Xi was sent to live in a cave in northeast China while still a teenager. This experience only hardened his dedication to the party, though, with Xi working his way up through the murky apparatus of the Chinese Communist party (CCP) until he became president in 2012.

With the state shutting down opposition and the removal of term limits, Xi appears to be here for the long run

Participants of the Belt and Road Initiative
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Almost ten years later, the man now holds the whole of China in his hands. An anti-corruption investigation at the beginning of his rule rid the party of a vast number of rivals, and now Xi looks to remove the last traces of opposition in China. With the state shutting down any designated malcontents and Xi removing term limits at the last party conference, he appears to be here for the long run.

It is not just the centralisation of power that worries western onlookers. Foreign policy has also been notably aggressive. Xi’s big project, the Belt and Road Initiative, looks to spend over $1tn on projects in a third of the world's countries, especially developing Asian and African economies, tying them economically to China. As the world's geopolitical axis looks to shift to the east, Xi Jinping looks to be the man at the centre of the 21st century.

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