The Communist party prepares to hail mid-point of Xi Jinping’s 10-year term. But what do people make of their leader?

Like most residents of the sun-kissed fishing village of Tanmen, Huang Jie will never forget the day China’s “chairman of everything” came to town. It was the afternoon of 8 April 2013 – just a few months after Xi Jinping had taken power – and he was using one of his first presidential trips to pay a morale-boosting visit to the sailors on the frontline of Beijing’s quest to control the South China Sea.

“He was just over there,” reminisced Huang, the 45-year-old owner of a harbour-side equipment shop, motioning excitedly into the street to where Xi’s motorcade passed by. “The window was half open and he looked out at us and smiled. When he waved, it was as if it was in slow motion – he didn’t say a single word, but I felt so excited.”

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