[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
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.