February 14th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Who is China's leader-in-waiting?

China's vice president Xi Jinping will meet with President Obama today. The man considered China's leader-in-waiting is the son of a Mao-era revolutionary hero who rose to prominence and has played a key role in developing China's economic reforms. Former U.S. ambassador to China–and former Republican presidential candidate–Jon Huntsman told CNN's Erin Burnett Xi is "a very, very adroid political operator" who is rising into "the forefront of China's leadership structure."

Xi, the former governor of Fujian province–and the husband of a popular Chinese folk singer–could come to power alongside an entire new generation of Chinese leadership this fall, which Huntsman describes as "the most sweeping change I can remember in recent history."

Can President Obama strike a bond with Xi? Fei-Ling Wang, a professor of international affairs at Georgia Institute of Technology, says Xi's visits to the U.S. may be key:

The world will be watching Xi closely to see how he will govern China and navigate U.S.-China relations. Over a quarter century ago, Xi visited America as a young cadre managing agriculture for an obscure county. This time, as the next leader of a great country, he may remember fondly how ordinary Americans received Chinese visitors with open arms back then and how much the two countries have gone through together ever since. Let's hope that he will open up to America on what he envisions as a mutually beneficial partnership between the two countries in the coming years.

Filed under: National Security • Politics
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