China’s Xi Jingping has called himself a man with a dream. As the nation’s newly elected president, Xi now leads the world’s most populous country and has the ability to change the lives of billions of people living inside and outside of China. His ability to lead will be tested and every move he makes will be closely observed on the world stage, but in the meantime, here are some interesting facts about China’s new President.
1. He is the first national leader to hold a Ph.D.
After working as a farmer in the Shaanxi Province from age 16 to 22, Xi Jinping left the countryside to pursue a degree in chemical engineering at Tsinghua University in 1975. Later, Xi obtained a degree in Marxist degree as well as a Ph.D in law at the Tsinghua Humanities Institute, thus becoming China’s first leader to hold such a degree.
2. He is married to an award-winning singer.
Prior to marrying Xi Jinping in 1987, Peng Liyuan was an award-winning singer whose reputation nearly surpassed Xi’s prior to his presidential victory. However, her career was put on hold in order to keep a low-profile for her husband who was, at the time, a growing power within the Chinese government. Surprisingly, Xi Jinping is not the first Chinese leader to marry an entertainer; Communist China’s first leader, Chairman Mao, married Chinese actress Jiang Qing in 1938.
3. He is the son of a prominent Chinese reformer.
Xi Jinping’s father, Xi Zhongxun, fought alongside Chairman Mao in the revolution that brought the party to power in 1949. He later became China’s vice premier until Mao’s administration felt that he no longer shared their views. During this time, Xi was forced to work as a field laborer for seven years and lived in a cave at one point.
4. He holds a special place in his heart for the state of Iowa.
In an effort to learn more about farming, Xi Jinping visited Iowa in 1985 where he stayed with different families in Muscatine County. He returned to Iowa per his request last year to have a reunion with the friends he had made. After his visit, Iowa’s Governor Terry Branstad praised Xi and hoped for a stronger relationship between the United States and China.
5. His victory caught everyone by surprise.
Just kidding. Xi Jinping was the only candidate running and received 2,952 of the 2,956 possible votes.