This evening I went to the Ministry of Culture's Chinese New Year party at the National Museum. It was a reasonably modest affair compared with others'. Finally got to meet Cai Wu, the Minister. Interesting chap: born in poor, rural Gansu province and worked in a coal mine and then a clerk in the 70s; moved to Beijing to study Law at Peking University when things started opening up; and got his first job in the Communist Party (in its Youth League) in 1983, thereafter making his way up the Party ladder. Such humble beginnings are in fact quite common amongst the older political elite of course: being a good, idealistic worker from the provinces was more important than being an urban intellectual, say.
Incidentally, I didn't look this up on Wikipedia, which is blacked out today - not through through Chinese intervention but by its own hand in protest against some internet legislation going through US Congress.