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Xi Jinping's "Perfect Resume"

10:08 AM, Apr 2, 2007 • By JENNIFER CHOU
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Xi.jpgBetween March 24th and 26th, Beijing announced new party secretaries for four provinces (Zhejiang, Shaanxi, Shandong, Qinghai) and two cities (Shanghai and Tianjin). Of the six appointments, that of political rising star Xi Jinping, 53, to be secretary of the Shanghai branch of the Communist Party, has generated the most coverage in the Chinese media. In a March 27th report titled "Xi Jinping's Shanghai Mission," Xinhua characterized him as having the "perfect resume" to oversee China's wealthiest city.

Xi Jinping is the son of Xi Zhongxun, a founder of China's Communist guerilla armies, and later a prominent supporter of Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms. The younger Xi is known for instituting pro-business policies while serving as party boss in prosperous Zhejiang province. As governor of Fujian, he advocated limited government intervention in commerce and courted Taiwanese investors by establishing the first guild for Taiwanese businessmen on the mainland.

Coming to the position with a J.D. from the elite Qinghua University, it is hoped that Xi Jinping will clean up corruption-ridden Shanghai. Xi's predecessor, Chen Liangyu, was sacked last year for his role in the misuse of $474 million worth of social security funds.

Xi Jinping has his work cut out for him. On March 28th, a mere four days after his appointment, a group of local citizens issued an open letter to Xi after being evicted from their homes to make way for a development project. They demanded the ousting of incumbent mayor Han Zheng and other top city officials for alleged collusion with real estate developers and organized crime elements.

On the same day, another group, this one comprised of citizens whose houses had been demolished for the site of Expo 2010, announced plans to stage street protests over what they called "unfair compensations" for their property.

But Xi Jinping should be used to dealing with protestors. In 2005, while Xi was serving as party boss, Zhejiang province was rocked by a string of what are referred to in official parlance as "mass incidents." One of these saw some 30,000 villagers near Dongyang city protest over pollution by local chemical factories.

Then in July, as many as 15,000 residents of Xinchang stormed the site of a pharmaceutical factory after a fatal explosion at the plant contaminated a local river.

In August, in the town of Meishan, thousands of residents demanded the closure of a polluting battery factory.

In each of these incidents, armed police and anti-riot gear were deployed to quell the protestors. At the time, Hong Kong media speculated that the negative publicity would jeopardize Xi's political future. That appears not to have been the case.