By Sean Kwon, NorCap Staff Intern
Power and wealth are two things that typically come alongside the hereditary title of being a “Princeling” in China. Princeling is a term used to describe the descendants of the influential communist party elite. Many of these princelings enjoy extravagant lifestyles, driving luxury cars, talking business over cigars at exclusive clubs, and purchasing multi-million dollar mansions on the harbor fronts of Australia. However, Vice-President Xi Jinping is quite different than these princelings, and much is due to the time he spent in the countryside during his youth.
Xi Jinping is the son of Xi Zhongxun, a communist revolutionary hero and a deputy prime minister, considered to be a member of the first generation of Chinese leadership. Despite his current title as the Vice-President of China, Xi Jinping has had a long and hard journey to get to where he is now. In 1962, Xi Zhongxun was accused of being disloyal to the party and was thus purged from the CCP and sent to prison. Then, during the Cultural Revolution and at the age of 15, Xi Jinping was sent to live in one of China’s poorest regions, the village of Liangjiahe, in Shaanxi province. He lived in shacks with dirt floors, was assigned hard physical labor, and faced much hardship.
As Xi Jinping grew up, he shunned a flamboyant lifestyle, choosing windbreakers and the bus over western suits and private cars. He ate simple foods like dumplings and noodles with pork, and would play tennis with his friends at a local school courts instead of the ones located in private government guesthouses. His daughter, who is currently studying at Harvard, is living a low-key life under a different name.
Xi Jinping has a deep understanding of rural life in China. That he has climbed to the top of China’s political structure from ground zero may be one of the primary reasons he is forecasted to become China’s next leader.
For further information and sources, please see:
Xi Jinping: Cave Dweller or Princeling? – BBC
A Princeling of the People – The Daily Beast
Children of the Revolution - The Wall Street Journal
A Pragmatic Princeling Next In Line to Lead China – NPR