Xu Jialu, male, Han nationality, was born in Beijing in 1937, but his ancestral home is in Huai'an, Jiangsu Province. Xu received his degree in Chinese literature at Beijing University in 1959. He is one of China's leading authorities on classical Chinese literature, and he served in various teaching and administrative capacities in this field for four decades. He was vice president of Beijing Normal University and president of the Chinese Society for Exegetical Studies of Classical Chinese Literature. He was appointed chairman of the State Language Work Committee in 1994.
Xu was a member of the 7th, 8th and 9th NPC Standing Committees, and in 1997 he was elected chairman of the central committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy.