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China’s Xi rides high hopes ahead of presidency

March 3, 2013 • World News


In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, corn farmer Tang Rongbin, right, and his wife Gu Baoqing smile inside Tang’s home in Luotuowan village in northern China’s Hebei province. Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited Tang in December 2012 as part of efforts to style himself as a no-frills man-of-the-people. Xi has also presented himself as an economic reformer and an iron-fisted graft-buster, spurring expectations for change, but as he prepares to be appointed president, pressure will be growing on him to deliver. (AP Photo/Gillian Wong)

LUOTUOWAN VILLAGE, China (AP) — China’s fawning state media, jaded social media commentators and even poor corn and cabbage farmers agree: New Communist Party chief Xi Jinping is off to a good start.

“General Secretary Xi doesn’t put on any airs. He talks like an ordinary person,” said 69-year-old farmer Tang Rongbin. The new leader visited Tang’s sparse, dimly lit farmhouse in Luotuowan village in December, bearing gifts of cooking oil, flour and a blanket.

Xi has styled himself as an economic reformer, an iron-fisted graft-buster, a staunch nationalist and a no-frills man-of-the-people — spurring expectations for change. But as he prepares to be appointed to the largely ceremonial role of president, pressure will be growing on him to deliver.

China faces rising public anger over endemic corruption, a burgeoning rich-poor gap and the degradation of the country’s air, soil and waterways. Slower economic growth and territorial disputes, especially with Japan, add to the tension.

Mounting protests over environmental issues, land seizures and high-handed officialdom point to the underlying social discontent. Days before the party conclave that brought Xi to power last year, thousands of protesters in the eastern city of Ningbo faced off against riot police outside government offices, calling on officials to halt a chemical plant expansion.

“I think there has been a revolution of rising expectations,” said Willy Lam, an expert on party Login to read more

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