December 21, 1942: Birth of Hu Jintao, 5th paramount leader of China

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Hu Jintao, the fifth paramount leader of China, was born on December 21, 1942.

He is a Chinese politician, who was General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 2002 to 2012, President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from 2003 to 2013 and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) from 2004 to 2012.

He was a member of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee, China’s de facto top decision-making body, from 1992 to 2012. Hu is considered the paramount leader of China from 2004 to 2012.

Hu participated in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for most of his career, notably as Party Committee Secretary for Guizhou province and the Tibet Autonomous Region and then later First Secretary of the CCP Central Secretariat and Vice-President under former leader Jiang Zemin.

Hu was the first leader of the Communist Party from a generation younger than those who participated in the civil war and the founding of the republic.

During his term in office, Hu reintroduced state control in some sectors of the economy that were relaxed by the previous administration, and was conservative with political reforms.

Along with his colleague Premier Wen Jiabao, Hu presided over nearly a decade of consistent economic growth and development that cemented China as a major world power.

He sought to improve socio-economic equality domestically through the Scientific Outlook on Development, which aimed to build a “Harmonious Socialist Society” that was prosperous and free of social conflict.

Under his leadership, the authorities also cracked down on social disturbances, ethnic minority protests, and dissident figures.

In foreign policy, Hu advocated for “China’s peaceful development”, pursuing soft power in international relations and a corporate approach to diplomacy.

Throughout Hu’s tenure, China’s influence in Africa, Latin America, and other developing regions increased.

Hu possessed a modest and reserved leadership style.

His tenure was characterized by collective leadership and consensus-based rule.

These traits made Hu a rather enigmatic figure in the public eye.

His administration was known for its focus more on technocratic competence than persona.

At the end of his tenure, Hu won praise for retiring voluntarily from all positions. He was succeeded by Xi Jinping.

Tony Simon

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