Xi Jinping has formally appointed low-key Shanghai politician Ding Xuexiang as director of the General Secretary’s Office, reports revealed yesterday, although you may better recall him as the mysterious character loitering in the background of several photos documenting Xi’s recent weekend on the town, wherein the president posed with the elderly and casually ate baozi with the masses.
SCMP says that the rising star is “known for his ability to keep a low profile” while carrying out tasks for Xi.
The tour was Ding’s first public appearance since being appointed deputy director of the General Office of the Communist Party’s Central Committee in mid-May. Much like former president Hu Jintao’s secretary, Chen Shiju , Ding is expected to serve the president and the Central Committee concurrently.
A source close to Ding said that he is known for quickly turning his bosses’ public remarks on trips into official notices without referring to notes.
“Ding boasts some remarkable traits, ranging from perfect writing skills to a famously strong memory,” the source said.
Xi and Ding have connections as far back as 2007, when Xi was named to succeed Chen Liangyu as party secretary of Shanghai and Ding was promoted to the secretary-general’s post soon after.
“Xi needs someone with a clean background who does not know too many people in Beijing, so he won’t discuss Xi’s private thinking with outsiders,” a source said to SCMP. “In this regard, Ding has long ago proven to Xi that he is reliable.”
Edit: Two of the photos featured on here were in fact not Ding Xuexiang, as a commenter pointed out. He was only present in the pictures at the Beijing restaurant.