Leaked US diplomatic cables portray the anointed Chinese leader Xi Jinping as incorruptible, disinterested in extra marital affairs and a Communist hardliner who is “redder than reds”. The cables leaked by whistleblower web site WikiLeaks, says money seems unimportant to Xi as he apparently has enough. He likes the US and was at one time fascinated by the mysteries of Buddhism and Asian martial arts. On Oct 18, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party appointed 57-year-old Xi Jinping vice-president of the powerful Central Military Commission. This makes it all but certain that he will succeed Hu Jintao as Communist Party leader and Chinese president in 2012. The US embassy in Beijing has remarkably precise information about China’s future leader. Xi is “extremely ambitious”, and a good man, according to a US source. He also has a privileged upbringing. Xi is the son of former guerilla fighter and later deputy prime minister Xi Zhongxun. Xi is a “princeling”, one of an influential class of sons and daughters of loyal functionaries that steadily rise up the Communist Party hierarchy under their parents’ influence. During his time in eastern China, Xi developed a fascination with the mysticism of Buddhism, the Qigong breathing technique and martial arts. It appears he also believed in supernatural forces. In 2007 the leadership made him the Party leader in Shanghai. At the time, the Communist Party was embroiled in a corruption scandal and desperately needed a clean pair of hands. He was seen as incorruptible and as having sufficient authority to clean up the party’s ranks. Xi spent just seven months in China’s financial centre before the leadership brought him to Beijing and anointed him vice president. “Xi had promotion to the Center in mind from day one,” a US Embassy dispatch says. He is said to be a realist and a pragmatist, one who keeps his cards close to his chest before coldly playing his ace when the time is right. Xi appears uninterested in drinking and extramarital affairs, the pursuits preferred by many high-ranking officials. Women consider him boring, a trait he shares with his stern superior, President Hu Jintao. Xi, US cables say, knows his own country extremely well. He is well aware how corrupt many of his comrades are. He abhors the pursuit of money, much as he does China’s nouveau-riche. His greatest fear is that the new, free-market era will rob people of their dignity and respect. But he refrains from showing political initiative or promoting his own ideas, realising that such things are not good for a career within the Chinese Communist Party.