People in the News: Xi Jinping | Level 8 | By Little Fox

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[Series Introduction]

Young newscasters Ben and Olivia introduce well-known people from around the world. These “people in the news” have accomplished extraordinary things in science, sports, music, business, politics, and more!


BEN: Hello, Little Fox Readers, and welcome to a new edition of People in the News. Today Olivia will be introducing us to Xi Jinping, president of China and leader of the Chinese Communist Party. He heads the country with the largest population in the world.

OLIVIA: You’re right, Ben. More than 1.4 billion people call China home. That means that almost one of every five people on earth lives in China!
Xi was born in 1953, in Beijing. His father was a high-ranking member of the Communist Party. The third of four children, Xi grew up in a world of privilege in Beijing. Along with the sons of other important Communist Party members, he was known as a "princeling," or young prince. Xi attended an elite school with these other princelings. Their school was sometimes even called the "cradle of leaders," because of the students’ very powerful and influential families.
But Xi’s life changed dramatically in the 1960s when his father fell out of favor with Chairman Mao Zedong and was arrested. His mother was forced to work on a farm. The Red Guard, young supporters of Mao, threatened Xi and made him renounce his father.
Later, as part of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, many upper-class students were sent to rural areas to be "reeducated" by the peasants. This meant that the students were expected to learn about life from a peasant’s point of view. At the age of 16, Xi was sent to work on a farm in Shaanxi province.
Out of shape, Xi was not prepared for the intense manual labor or the rough living conditions. His back-breaking work included shoveling manure! At night he slept on a kang, a bed made of bricks and clay. Xi said later that he was miserable there—he hated the fleas, the food, and the work.
After three months Xi ran away, but he was arrested and sent back to the farm, where he worked for about six years. It was a difficult time in Xi’s life, but today he credits this experience with transforming him. He says it gave him a new appreciation for farmers and the poor.

BEN: Wow. Did Xi ever have the chance to return to school?

OLIVIA: Yes, in 1975 he was allowed to leave the farm to study chemical engineering. He graduated from Beijing’s Tsinghua University in 1979. Studying part-time, he later earned a law degree from the same university in 2002.
Although some princelings wanted nothing more to do with the Communists, Xi was eager to join the party. His application was rejected seven times while his father was still out of favor. But in 1974 his application was accepted, thanks to the influence of a local party member. When Mao died in 1976, Xi’s father went back to work for the party. Xi landed his first job after college with his father’s help. He became secretary to China’s vice-premier. The vice-premier is part of China's State Council, a powerful branch of the government.
With this important job, Xi began his rise through the Communist Party. By 2000 he was governor of Fujian province. Seven years later he became a member of the politburo, the committee that rules the party. In 2008 he was elected vice-president of China. In March 2013 the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, elected Xi president of China.

BEN: What does Xi want to accomplish as president?
. . .

[Little Fox Introduction]

Little Fox is an award-winning library of leveled stories and songs. We create animated stories and songs to help kids to learn English easily as a second language (ESL). Visit our website, www.littlefox.com, to learn more about our unique curriculum and our thousands of digital resources.


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