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Inside China's ruling party Voices from Modern China
Leadership changes



Hu
Jintao

Wu
Bangguo

Wen
Jiabao

Jia
Qinglin

Zeng
Qinghong

Huang
Ju

Wu
Guanzheng

Li
Changchun

Luo
Gan

Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin
Li Peng
Li Peng
Zhu Rongji
Zhu Rongji
Li Ruihuan
Li Ruihuan
Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao
Wei Jianxing
Wei Jianxing
Li Lanqing
Li Lanqing




Hu Jintao
Vice-President

Hu Jintao, China's new Communist Party chief, has played the role of leader-in-waiting to perfection.

He has made no enemies and said nothing controversial. As a result he can appear lifeless, though his political skills must be considerable to have stayed in such a precarious place for so long.

Biographies of Mr Hu record that he was born in December 1942. In his youth he was interested in water conservation and read hydraulic engineering at Qinghua University in the 1960s.

They also mention his love for ballroom dancing, he is said to be highly intelligent and to have an almost photographic memory.

But as to what he believes, almost nothing is known.

Some have suggested China's vice president is a closet reformer, and that once in power he will show his true stripes.

To support the theory, they point to Mr Hu's close relationship with Hu Yaobang (no relation), the reforming Communist Party secretary-general who led China in the mid-1980s.

Some also cite as evidence his inclination to send officials to management training courses in Harvard.

'Yes man'

Others disagree. Much in Mr Hu's career, they say, points to his conservatism. He has been mocked, for instance, as a "yes man" who has carefully avoided personal initiatives and stuck closely to doing the bidding of his elders.

One of his most memorable public appearances on national TV was after the 1999 Nato bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, apparently on the orders of Jiang Zemin.

According to the Hong Kong press, Mr Hu made an even tougher statement on the occasion to Party and government workers, reportedly saying: "Hostile forces in the United States will never give up their attempt to subjugate China".

Mr Hu also showed his hard-line credentials when in 1988 he was given the task of running Tibet. After anti-Chinese riots in 1989, he carried out a central government order to impose martial law.

Mr Hu spent little time in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, saying he disliked high altitudes.

Instead, he supervised the Tibet crackdown from Beijing, which many now regard as a dress rehearsal for the introduction of martial law during the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing in 1989.

Some reports say Mr Hu was one of the first provincial leaders to send a message to the central government supporting the entry of troops into Beijing in June 1989.

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