Hu Jintao

Hu Jintao [ho͞o jēn′tou′]
1942- ; Chin. Communist leader: general secretary of the Communist Party (2002- ); president of China (2002- )

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born Dec. 1942, Shanghai, China

General secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP; from 2002) and president of China (from 2003).

After studying engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Hu worked as a construction worker in Gansu province, where he met Song Ping, a party elder who became Hu's mentor and later introduced him to the CCP general secretary, Hu Yaobang. By the mid-1980s Hu Jintao had risen to general secretary of the Chinese Communist Youth League (CCYL), and in 1985 he was appointed party secretary for Guizhou province, where he helped implement educational and economic reforms. Named a member of the CCP Central Committee in 1987, he was sent to Tibet the following year as a provincial party secretary, and in 1989 he presided over the suppression of Tibetan unrest. In 1992 he was appointed a member of the Secretariat of the CCP Central Committee, and in 1998 he was elected vice president of China. Hu succeeded President Jiang Zemin as general secretary of the CCP in 2002 and the following year was elected president. In 2004 he became head of the Central Military Commission after Jiang resigned the post.

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▪ 2003

      By 2002 Hu Jintao, the vice president of China since 1998, had emerged as the heir apparent to Pres. Jiang Zemin. Hu took over from Jiang as general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the 16th CPC Congress in November and was widely expected to succeed him as president in early 2003. A series of high-profile trips abroad undertaken earlier by the vice president clearly pointed to him as the next leader of the world's most populous nation. In May he made his first visit to the U.S., where he met with Pres. George W. Bush at the White House for what was described as a “get-acquainted” session. The two had met for the first time in February during Bush's visit to China. In late 1999 Hu had also paid visits to Russia, Britain, France, Spain, and Germany.

      Hu was born into a merchant family in December 1942 in Shanghai and grew up in Taizhou, Jiangsu province, China. As a youth he distinguished himself academically, testing into a prestigious high school and then going on to earn an engineering degree from Tsinghua University, Beijing, in 1965. He was recruited to join the CPC while still a student at the university. After graduation he served as an assistant instructor at the school before being sent to work for a year as a construction worker in Gansu province during the Cultural Revolution. He later held several technical and political posts in the province.

      It was in Gansu province that Hu met Song Ping, a party elder and fellow Tsinghua graduate who became Hu's mentor. By 1982 Song had appointed him to a series of posts and introduced him to the CPC general secretary, Hu Yaobang. Within the next two years the younger Hu had moved to Beijing and risen to the top post of the Chinese Communist Youth League (CCYL), of which the elder Hu was a former general secretary. The younger Hu was named a member of the CPC Central Committee in 1987. Dispatched to Tibet a year later as a provincial party secretary, he presided over the suppression of Tibetan unrest in 1989. When Song retired as one of the seven standing members of the Political Bureau in 1992, he successfully lobbied for Hu to succeed him.

      At the 1992 CPC Congress, Hu was appointed party secretariat, a key responsibility that enabled him to establish networks throughout the party. A year after his election as vice president in 1998, Hu added the vice chairmanship of the CPC Central Military Commission to his resumé—a title that solidified his status as leader-in-waiting. From that time, Hu was often noticeably patriotic in his public remarks, including his strong condemnation of the American bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999. While no one could predict how he would lead China in the years to come, Hu's apparent political skills and his reported support for economic liberalization made him one of the more intriguing new figures on the world stage.

Xiaobo Hu

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▪ president of China
Wade-Giles romanization  Hu Chin-t'ao 
born December 25, 1942, Taizhou, Jiangsu province, China

      Chinese official, general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 2002 and president of China from 2003.

      Hu was born into a merchant family and grew up in Taizhou, Jiangsu province. As a youth, he distinguished himself academically, and in 1965 he earned a hydroelectric engineering degree from Tsinghua University in Beijing. While a student there, he was recruited to join the CCP. Following graduation, Hu served as an assistant instructor at the school before being sent to work for a year as a construction worker in Gansu province during the Cultural Revolution. He later held several technical and political posts in the province.

      In Gansu Hu began an association with Song Ping, a party elder and fellow Tsinghua graduate who became Hu's mentor. By 1982 Song had appointed him to a series of posts and introduced him to the CCP general secretary, Hu Yaobang. Within the next two years, Hu Jintao had moved to Beijing and risen to general secretary of the Chinese Communist Youth League (CCYL), a post once held by Hu Yaobang. In 1985 Hu Jintao was appointed party secretary for Guizhou province, where he helped implement educational and economic reforms. Named a member of the CCP Central Committee in 1987, he was dispatched to Tibet a year later as a provincial party secretary, and in 1989 he imposed martial law in response to unrest there. When Song retired in 1992 as one of the seven standing members of the Political Bureau, he successfully lobbied for Hu to replace him.

      At the 1992 CCP Congress, Hu was appointed a member of the Secretariat of the CCP Central Committee, a key post that enabled him to establish networks throughout the party. In 1998 he was elected vice president of China, and the following year he became the vice chairman of the CCP Central Military Commission. By 2002 Hu had emerged as the heir apparent to President Jiang Zemin, and in November of that year he succeeded Jiang as general secretary of the CCP. In March 2003 Hu was elected president of China by the National People's Congress. He consolidated his power in September 2004 when he was named head of the Central Military Commission following Jiang's resignation.

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Universalium. 2010.

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