Meanwhile, an anti-graft crusader, Mr Xi also took to the task of rooting out corruption with a fierce fervour. He famously vowed to crack down on both “tigers” and “flies”, referring to corrupt high-level and low-ranking officers alike.
The fall of Bo Xilai, the former party chief in Chongqing, was a notable example. He was jailed for life for his bribery, corruption and power abuse conviction.
“The anti-corruption campaign has many undesirable effects but it has cleaned up Chinese officialdom and society significantly,” said UM’s Dr Ngeow.
Last year alone, China punished 627,000 officials, from provincial cadres to workers in villages and companies, according to the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission.
While his tough stance on corruption had stoked a backlash from critics, arguing that he was using the campaign to remove political enemies, Mr Xi looks set to carry on.
He said the corruption situation in China was still “tough and complex” although there has been “overwhelming victory” in the battle against graft.
“We should never underestimate the stubbornness and harm of corruption. We must carry the anti-corruption campaign through to the end,” he was quoted as saying in June this year by Xinhua news agency.
Mr Xi was also much more serious than his predecessors in tackling environmental issues, according to Dr Ngeow.
“He can be said to be the most ‘ecological’ Chinese leader since the founding of the PRC. This is not to suggest that his environmental record is always impeccable, but relative to all previous Chinese leaders, he has done more in reducing pollution,” he said.
There were also many other major achievements, the China watcher added, such as deleveraging its economy, military reforms, poverty reduction and taking care of the vulnerable population, Dr Ngeow added.
“Few in the west have paid attention to this, but Xi has done more to help people with disabilities in China than any of his predecessors,” he said.
An example of Mr Xi’s policies was the 14th five-year plan for the protection and development of disabled people, he said, which is a comprehensive document with the goal of achieving sustainable, employable, supported and dignified living for the disabled community.