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Commentary: Xi Jinping, China's new revolutionary hero

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BEIJING: At their first meeting in April, Chinese President Xi Jinping tried to warn his US counterpart about how dangerous a confrontation with North Korea would be.

"We have fought them many times over the centuries," Mr Xi told Donald Trump, according to those briefed on their conversation. "There were terrible casualties on both sides."

Mr Xi, 64 and embarking on his second five-year term as leader of China's ruling Communist party, was referring to the periodic wars between various Chinese empires and Korean kingdoms as far back as the fourth century BC.

The lesson, and Mr Trump's other interactions with China's president, left a deep impression. "He's so smart," Mr Trump later said. He also describes Mr Xi as "tough".


Smart, tough, calculating and deeply versed in history - these traits, demonstrated over the past five years by Mr Xi, have helped delineate a man now regarded as China's great centraliser and most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong, the party's revolutionary hero.

In private, Mr Xi intimidates his peers with long silences and "this face that doesn't move, never smiling", as one person who has observed him in meetings puts it.

His public image is also stern, a man popular with the masses because of an anti-corruption campaign that has devastated the party's upper ranks.

But the cult of personality created by the party's propagandists also presents him as a warm character, sometimes referred to as Xi Dada or Uncle Xi, who is familiar with the struggles of ordinary Chinese.

"We have fought them many times over the centuries”, Mr Xi told Mr Trump, referring to the various wars between Chinese empires and Korean kingdoms over the........

© Channel NewsAsia