[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
China's Hu remains an enigma
The Chinese leader departs from his predecessor's path towards development.
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2007 02:37 GMT

China's most powerful leader has been portrayed as compassionate but no pushover [GALLO/GETTY]

At the helm of an emerging superpower, Hu Jintao, China's president and general-secretary of the ruling Communist party, remains something of a mystery.
 
Handpicked by his predecessor, Jiang Zemin, during his five years in power Hu has done little to shake off the image of a cautious but efficient businessman.
There is certainly nothing of the personality cult that surrounded the founder of communist China, Mao Zedong.
 
Indeed, in public at least, there seems little in the way of a personality around which a cult could be built.
But those who have seen Hu operate – in the faction-ridden, murky world of Chinese politics - argue that beneath the deadpan veneer lurks a keen political mind.
 
When he took power after the Communist party's 16th congress in 2003, Hu found himself facing a government machinery stacked with Jiang allies.
 
Clear message
 
The message was clear: the "old man" may have retired, but he intended to keep a close watch over the new leader's shoulders.
 
Some observers speculated that Hu might be little more than a figurehead.
 
China Congress


Communist Party of China
Timeline: China from Mao to now
Country profile: China
Shanghai boss booted out
Hu's grip on Congress

Instead, five years after taking power, Hu has increasingly struck his own course.
 
Rather than Jiang's emphasis on breakneck economic development, Hu has instead sought to champion the hundreds of millions who have yet to taste the fruits of China's economic boom.
 
It is a stance that forms the core of Hu's agenda to build what he calls a "harmonious society", using a concept he labels "scientific development" – emphasising social stability and economic sustainability.
 
Those who portray Hu as a compassionate conservative say this stems from his many years working in party posts in some of China's poorest provinces.
 
It is this no-nonsense, man-of-the-people aura that the Hu public relations machine has been keen to cultivate.
 
According to one report, for example, he recently spent just $4 on two days of meals during an official trip.
 
Pragmatism
 
But it could also be argued that, on a more pragmatic level, ensuring a content, "harmonious society" is the only realistic way the Communist party can retain its hold on power.
 
Having all but abandoned their socialist dogma, China's leaders now stake their legitimacy on continuing to deliver growth.
 
At the same time though, Hu has made it clear that he is no pushover.
 
Under his leadership, scores of journalists, lawyers and human rights campaigners have been jailed – emphasising that, on his watch, there will be no loosing of the Communist party’s grip on power.
 
Now leading the party into its 17th congress - a key political event in the Chinese calendar - Hu is expected to use the occasion to further consolidate his hold on the party and, as a result, on China itself.
 
It will also see Hu's ideology of "scientific development" formally added to the constitution – establishing his legitimacy as China's top leader, emerging from Jiang's shadow and clearing the way for his own political programme.
Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
More than fifty years of an armed struggle for independence from Spain might be coming to an end in the Basque Country.
After the shooting-down of flight MH17, relatives ask what the carrier has learned from still-missing MH370.
Human rights and corporate responsibility prompt a US church to divest from companies doing business with Israel.
Afghan militias have accumulated a lengthy record of human-rights abuses, including murders and rapes.
Growing poverty is strengthening a trend among UK Muslims to fund charitable work closer to home.
join our mailing list