There aren’t many 21st Century leaders who lived in a cave and laboured as a farmer before clawing their way to power.Five decades ago, as the chaos of the Cultural Revolution engulfed Beijing, the 15-year-old Xi Jinping embarked on a harsh rural life amid the yellow canyons and mountains of inland China.
The region where Xi farmed was a bastion of the Communists during the civil war. Yan’an came to call itself “the holy land of the Chinese revolution”. Now President Xi Jinping’s second five-year term as leader will be confirmed at the Chinese Communist Party Congress. He leads a confident, rising superpower, but one which jealously polices what is said about its leaders.