(LinkAsia: November 16, 2012) Yul Kwon: So who is Xi Jinping? Neighboring Japan is keenly interested to know what the leadership change means for the future of its strained relations with China. Here's Japan's public broadcaster NHK with its take on the new Chinese leader.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: November 9, 2012
Reporter: Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is 59 years old. He comes from Shanxi Province. Communist Party leaders named Xi Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission in 2010. He's taken an active role in diplomacy as well as domestic affairs.
Xi Jinping: China is committed to defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will try to settle disputes with our neighbors over land and sea rights through friendly negotiations.
Reporter: Xi Jinping's father was a Vice Premier. So Xi became part of China's informal princeling network. Princelings gain power by taking advantage of their parent's status and ties to influential figures. But Xi didn't have it easy. Authorities ousted his father and jailed him during the cultural revolution. Xi was forced to work in the countryside as a teenager. He went to a prestigious university in Beijing from 1975 to 1979. And then he spent the next quarter century holding down key positions in the Communist Party and the government in Fujian, Zhejiang and Shanghai.
Reporter: Xi gained domestic and international prominence in 2007. He skipped the stage of Politburo member and went straight into the Politburo's standing committee. Xi's wife is a well known figure in her own right. Peng Liyuan is popular singer in the troupe belonging to the People's Liberation Army. Analysts say her star status and support from the military has helped Xi's career. Xi has spent the past couple of years cementing his position as successor to President Hu Jintao. He visited the U.S. in early 2012 to promote relations. His counterpart, Vice President Joe Biden was with him for much of the visit.
Xi Jinping: We will, in light of China's national conditions, continue to take concrete measures and craft effective policies…to promote social fairness, justice and harmony, and push forward China's cause of human rights.
Reporter: Xi said that on some issues, the two governments will not necessarily see eye to eye.
(LinkAsia: March 9, 2012) Yul Kwon: The largest legislative body in the world is holding its annual meeting this week. At about 3,000 members, China’s National People’s Congress covers topics similar to its counterparts in other countries. But faced with a weak global economy, this year China and the rest of the world are focusing more than usual on the Chinese economy and the impending leadership transition this fall. For example, Japanese broadcaster NHK covered the social issues that China is struggling to address and speculated on the transition of the country’s top leaders, many of whom are expected to step down to make way for a younger generation later this year. Here's the story.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: March 5, 2012
Reporter: This is the Great Hall of the People where the annual conference of the National People’s Congress is taking place. About 3,000 delegates from all over China have gathered here in Beijing. Premier Wen Jiabao used a two-hour speech on the first day of the congress to outline the government’s policies for the coming year. He said China’s leaders would put the brakes on their speedy economy and shift from growth to stability.
Wen Jiabao, Chinese Premier: The target for this year’s economic growth is to increase GDP by 7.5 percent. We hope to make economic development more sustainable and efficient so as to achieve higher level, higher quality development over a longer period of time.
Reporter: Chinese officials had kept the target at around 8 percent for the past 7 years. Wen blamed the change on the international credit crisis and domestic problems, such as inflation. He also frankly addressed some of the other issues facing the government.
Wen Jiabao: Problems concerning land expropriation, housing demolition, workplace safety, food and drug safety, and income distribution are still very serious. And the people are still very concerned about them.
Reporter: Many Chinese people are frustrated with corruption or local bureaucrats for neglecting their duties. The government seems to be trying to maintain social stability to ensure a smooth power transition this fall by placing priority on people over economic growth.
This shift in policy is not the only thing attracting public interest. The congress session is also an occasion to speculate on the leadership change that's expected at the Communist Party’s convention this fall.
The nine-member Politburo Standing Committee effectively controls China, a country that's been ruled by one political party since 1949. The committee's getting an overhaul. Seven members will likely be replaced by younger leaders at this fall's convention.
Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to assume the post of general secretary, putting him on track to become president of China next year. Vice Premier Li Keqiang will likely become his premier. Bo Xilai is widely expected to join the Standing Committee. Right now, he's the secretary of the Communist Party's Chongqing Committee. Bo is currently involved in a controversy. We learned just before the congress opened that one of his close aides is being investigated on corruption and other charges. Bo seems to be trying to show things are business as usual. He's attending the meetings at the congress. But some observers say the series of developments may have some impact on China's change of leadership.
The power struggle over top posts appears to be accelerating, and there's a lot of speculation here in Beijing. People in China and other countries are closely watching the congress to see what party leaders will do.
(LinkAsia: February 17, 2012) Yul Kwon: Meanwhile, Japan’s NHK said Xi got a 'rough ride' in his meeting with Obama. It said the US president ‘lectured’ the Chinese leader on trade and human rights.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: February 15, 2012
Reporter: President Obama has certainly heard Xi Jinping's name, but his opinions remain somewhat of a mystery, so the two took time in the Oval Office to get to know each other a little better.
Xi Jinping, Chinese Vice President: I look forward to my in-depth discussion with you, President Obama.
Reporter: Obama got right to it, pressing Xi on some of the same issues he has stressed with other Chinese leaders.
Barack Obama, US President: We want to work with China to make sure that everybody is working by the same rules of the road when it comes to the world economic system, and that includes ensuring that there is a balanced trade flow.
Reporter: US diplomats rarely fail to raise human rights when they meet with their Chinese counterparts. Obama, too, had some advice.
Barack Obama: Expanding power and prosperity also comes with increased responsibilities.
Reporter: Xi said China and the US should build a partnership based on mutual respect and interests. Still, he suggested the two need to acknowledge their differences. The Obama administration is extending an unprecedented level of hospitality to Xi. Vice President Joe Biden is accompanying him to most destinations. That's not going over well with Republicans. They've argued for some time that Obama is too soft on China.
Yul Kwon: Analysts say that Obama raised contentious issues to fend off Republican criticism that the administration hasn’t been tough enough on China, particularly on issues related to China’s currency.