China’s President Xi Jinping is not as vocal or social media obsessed as president Trump He’s arguably the world’s most powerful leader, and thanks to a recent end to term limits he can now rule for life But few knew much about him before he became China’s president, as a longtime cog in China’s bureaucracy Xi gave little indication of the sort of nationalist leader he’d be until this comment he made as vice president Those 30 seconds of shade were nearly entirely scrubbed from the interwebs by Chinese censors But it did give the world a glimpse into how Xi might rule Way before he was China’s President Xi Jinping couldn’t even get into the Communist Party He came from a well-off political family, but after his dad clashed with the party he was turned away. As a teen he lived in a remote village for several years, an experience some say helped him relate to Chinese citizens He eventually joined the party, gradually moved up the ranks, and was appointed successor by party elders who thought he wouldn’t shake things up but that plan backfired. One of the signatures of his presidency has been a massive anti-corruption drive that punished nearly 300,000 politicians in 2016 alone The corruption hunt has been both praised for its effectiveness and criticized as a ploy to root out Xi’s political opponents Stoking Chinese nationalism has been a big part of Xi’s agenda, also known as the Chinese dream – the term he made popular in 2013 That means becoming a global leader on several fronts including the sciences, diplomacy, and culture. And parts of that dreams seem to be paying off. Under Xi, China became the world’s second largest economy and its influence is only growing. His ‘let’s all win’ rhetoric about trade is especially pronounced in China’s partnerships with countries in Eurasia, Latin America, and Africa “Our country is being killed on trade by China”. On the campaign trail Trump repeatedly blamed China for the US’s economic decline but he recently started giving Xi credit “I don’t blame China. Who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country For the benefit of its citizens, I give China great credit”. Still China’s heavy investments in Africa have been criticized as exploitative. A big part of achieving the Chinese dream is making sure all citizens are invested in what Xi calls harmony That everyone is singing the same tune so to speak which explains Why a 2017 law punishes anyone who distorts the lyrics or disrespects the national anthem It’s his unifying philosophy that’s allowed him to cement his status as the country’s core leader the highest honor for any Chinese ruler He’s built up a cult of personality with appearances in his own propaganda Cartoons and in mobile games a recent popular game lets players compete over how fast they can clap for Shi The app has registered over a billion claps The government’s online sensors also carefully protect Xi’s image after news of lifting term limits hit sensors Deleted critical social media comments and political memes of Winnie the Pooh meant to represent Shi China’s government also uses state media to promote an image of unity That’s where the so-called 50 cent army comes in They’re the government’s online foot soldiers who flood Chinese social media and forums with hundreds of millions of positive comments and stories a year Chinese social media platforms make sure they don’t ruffle any feathers Weibo – China’s version of Twitter – announced last September that it would hire a thousand censorship supervisors. Shortly after Freedom House named China the worst abuser of Internet freedom for the second year in a row The country’s poor human rights record has been among one of the primary stains on its global image Even so everything seems to be in step with the vision Xi laid out last year at his party’s 19th Congress. In that address he laid out one of his most ambitious plans yet: transforming the Armed Forces China is opening its first overseas military base in Djibouti and is increasing its presence in the South China Sea both clear signs of its military expansion With no successor and even more time to rule, Xi is getting closer to realizing the Chinese dream himself.