No development in international politics is attracting as much attention as the emergence of China as a great power. But many questions and uncertainties attend China’s rise. What are the longterm goals of Chinese power? Does Beijing view the international system as fundamentally beneficial to its goals or as an impediment to them? Will China emerge as a more open, prosperous, just and sustainable society or less so? As China’s paramount leader Xi Jinping is the single-most powerful individual shaping his country’s answers to those questions. It is therefore important to illuminate and understand the forces which are likely to affect his thinking and his responses to them. With that in mind, this essay will delve into Xi’s background, his stated vision for China’s future and the challenges which confront that vision. From there, the essay concludes with an assessment of how these factors are likely to play out in Chinese domestic and foreign policy in the years ahead.