China's Xi Jinping touts people-first mantra

Xi Jinping's people-first culture was front and centre in his 70-minute speech.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - In an interview with American media network CBS ahead of his ice-breaking trip to the United States in 1997, then Chinese President Jiang Zemin invoked Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address, reciting in English from memory: "This government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

Asked by his interviewer, 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace, if he was a dictator, Mr Jiang insisted that he was an "elected leader", as he was voted head of state by China's Parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), in 1993 and again in 1998. Many though consider the NPC to be a rubber-stamp body.

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