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Grand plans will test Xi's mettle

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Workers rest in front of a wall at a construction site in a business district in Beijing in October.   © Reuters

Since Xi Jinping became China's president in early 2013, three hallmarks have stamped his leadership style: rapid accumulation of power and high-ranking positions that has earned him the nickname "chairman of everything"; a robustly self-confident manner and strongman image, increasingly burnished by a personality cult; and a flair for bold, eye-catching initiatives.

     The president's energy and personal authority, exceeding that of any Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping, are indisputable. But can he actually perform? Will he deliver the sweeping changes his country needs to meet pressing challenges ranging from a broken economic model and mounting debt to a fast-ageing population, severe environmental degradation and acute water shortages?

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