Xi Jinping “Paramount Leader”

  • General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
  • Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission

1953: Born in Beijing

1969: His father falls out of favor during the Cultural Revolution. Xi Jinping (age 16) is sent to work on a farm in Yanchuan County, northwest Shaanxi province (one of China’s poorest provinces), as part of Mao Zedong’s Down to the Countryside Movement. The farmers in Shaanxi liked him: he won wrestling matches against them and was able to carry shoulder poles of heavy 110lb buckets across the mountains.

1985: As leader of a small delegation from Hebei province to study American agriculture, Xi Jinping (age 31) paid a 3-day visit to the town of Muscatine (pop. 23,000), eastern Iowa (as of 2011, Iowa was the top soybean producer at 466 million metric tons or 12.7% of output).

Due to the delegations limited budget, Xi Jinping stayed with a local family. Over breakfast, the family only managed to communicate just basic things, like offering a cup of tea or water. The mother of the household noted, “At the time, it was a little awkward. I don’t know what he thought of it all,” she said, “but it made a deep impression on me, and I guess apparently on him, too.”

2012: After a 27 year hiatus, Xi Jinping revisits Muscatine, stating “coming here is really like coming back home.” At an official dinner in Des Moines, the governor of Iowa toasted Xi saying “Iowa farmers are proud to harvest safe and reliable agricultural products for use by the people of China.” During the visit, U.S. companies Cargill Inc. and the Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. signed contracts to export $4.3 billion worth of soybeans to China.

Sources: The Telegraph Nov 2012, GMA News Nov 2012, Washington Post Feb 2012, BBC News Feb 2012, Bloomberg Feb 2012

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