Who Is Hu Jintao? Official Niceties Obscure His Bloody Record

Article excerpt


''It is not every day that the queen and the British prime minister welcome a state leader who ordered his troops to mow down unarmed civilians." So begins a British newspaper report by eminent China scholar and editor Jonathan Mirsky on the visit of Hu Jintao to England in 2001. At the time, Mr. Hu was only No. 2 in China.

Mr. Mirsky wondered what briefing notes the United Kingdom's Foreign Office sent around, because Mr. Hu's official biography as released by the Chinese Communist Party is pretty innocuous. He graduated from China's version of MIT, and he was the youngest provincial Communist Party secretary of his time.

But it is Mr. Hu's role as Communist Party secretary in Tibet (distinctly not addressed in his official biography) that has led to the red stain he will never wash off. In early March 1989, a small group of Tibetan monks led a march in Lhasa to protest killings by Chinese troops the year before. They were fired upon. Tibetan citizens responded with demonstrations. Mr. Hu declared martial law in Lhasa and Chinese security officers, under orders from Party Secretary Hu, opened fire for three days, killing somewhere between 100 and 700 Tibetans, Mr. Mirsky wrote.

Mr. Hu's motivation for ordering the killing of unarmed civilians is unknown. What is known is that Mr. Hu has a very strong racial hatred and fear of Tibetans. We know this because Mr. Hu confessed such to Mr. Mirsky in an interview before the Lhasa murders. He loathed Tibet's climate and Tibetans' lack of culture. He kept his family in Beijing and visited Lhasa as infrequently as he could. Perhaps he might have appreciated Tibetan culture more if the Chinese communists had not destroyed so much of it, beginning with their invasion of the country in 1949. By 1989, perhaps 90 percent of it was gone, along with more than a million Tibetans, murdered in their own land. As a symbol of their suffering and of the nation (and a pointed rebuke to Mr. Hu and his Communist Party comrades) the Nobel Committee awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize to His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama.

For this week's state visit to Washington, Mr. Hu is No. 1, called president of the People's Republic of China although he never stood for election by the people. His real power is his position as the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and his role as the chairman of the party's Central Military Commission. …