Xi Jinping is seen as a "princeling", a term applied to senior officials who are believed to owe their promotion to family connections.
Born in Shaanxi Province in 1953, he is the son of revolutionary veteran Xi Zhongxun, one of the Communist Party's founding fathers.
But to many in China, Mr Xi is most famous for his celebrity wife - the singer Peng Liyuan.
In an interview with a state-run magazine earlier this year, she described him as frugal, hardworking and down-to-earth.
"When he comes home, I've never thought of it as though
there's some leader in the house. In my eyes, he's just my
husband," Reuters quoted her as saying.
Mr Xi studied engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing, which has produced many of China's current top leaders, including President Hu Jintao.
He joined the Communist Party in 1974 and rose to prominence as a local party secretary in Hebei province from 1982 to 1985.
He moved to Fujian province in 1985 where he rose through the ranks and was eventually installed as provincial governor in 2000.
He is seen as having a zero-tolerance attitude to corrupt officials, and has twice been drafted in to trouble-shoot major problems.
In Fujian he helped to clear up a corruption scandal in the late 1990s, and earlier this year he was made party chief of Shanghai in 2007 when its former chief, Chen Liangyu, was sacked amid corruption charges.
He also worked hard to attract foreign investment to Zhejiang and Fujian, and is seen as pro-business.
US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is said to regard him as a friend, describing him as "the kind of guy who knows how to get things over the goal line".