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Setting his eyes on the next 100 years, Xi seizes the chance to lead China to greater power

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China CPC Central Committee, Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivers an important speech at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC in Beijing, capital of China, July 1, 2021.

Ju Peng | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

BEIJING — One hundred years since the founding of China’s Communist Party — which it says was born out of a secret meeting on a boat — President Xi Jinping now stands a chance to lead the country to becoming the world’s largest economy.

Achieving that level of growth will require China to propel itself past looming challenges: the so-called middle income trap, lack of innovation and a rapidly aging population. That’s according to analysts, mostly looking in from abroad.

For Xi, his eyes are already on the next hundred years, and an unfulfilled dream of the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” which he reiterated at centenary celebrations for the party this week. Xi also holds the top political position of the general secretary of the ruling Communist Party’s central committee and heads China’s military commission.

“He has iron in his soul, more than [former President] Hu Jintao, who ascended the ranks without experiencing the trials and tribulations that Xi endured,” the late founder of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, told American foreign policy experts Graham Allison and Robert D. Blackwill in 2012, just before Xi officially became president.

The 68-year-old is the son of an early Communist leader who rose to vice premier, then suffered political persecution for 16 years under the party’s dominating founder Mao Zedong.

Xi himself spent about seven years working in the countryside as a teenager during the Cultural Revolution, which Mao used to regain his power and eliminate his political rivals.

Xi’s political career

Xi had a stint as a village party secretary, studied at Tsinghua University’s chemical engineering school, then worked his way up through government positions across the country, notably in Fujian prov