03/14/2013, 00.00
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NPC elects Xi Jinping

As expected, China's 'parliament' votes in with an almost unanimous vote Xi Jinping as PRC president and CMC chief. "In recent memory there is no comparable figure who has [had] such power [so quickly]," said Willy Lam.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Although the election was a foregone conclusion, the National People's Congress in a near unanimous vote elected Xi Jinping as the president of the People's Republic of China (PRC) with only one vote against and three abstentions. The new president, who was elected party general secretary five months ago, also becomes head of the Central Military Commission (CMC). Xi is now the unquestioned strongman of the country for the next ten years.

"In recent memory there is no comparable figure who has such power in his hand [so quickly]," said Willy Lam, a well-known politics expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The presidential appointment makes Xi an 'indisputable supremo'. When he "travels abroad he will be on a par with presidents of other countries," Lam explained.

As the son of a founding member of the PRC, Xi is one of China's 'princelings', the offspring of China's first generation of Communist leaders, who grew up immersed in the ruling party's upper echelons.

His father, Xi Zhongxun, was an early revolutionary leader. After falling victim to a purge, he later spearheaded the country's economic transformation.

Born in Beijing in 1953, Xi was sent to Shaanxi province to learn "from the masses". After joining the party in 1974, he studied chemical engineering at the elite Tsinghua University.

He began to climb the party hierarchy in Hebei, Fujian and Zhejiang, eventually landing in Shanghai where he became party boss in 2007.

Married twice, his current wife is Peng Liyuan, a famous folk singer who is a member of the People's Liberation Army.

He is an aficionado of American war movies and a fan of independent filmmaker Jia Zhangke.

He has a daughter studying at Harvard, and a sister who is said to live in Canada.


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