China's Hu: Well Liked, Little Known ; during US Visit, Hu Jintao Will Promote Trade and Stronger Diplomatic Ties

By Robert Marquand writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, April 19, 2006 | Go to article overview

China's Hu: Well Liked, Little Known ; during US Visit, Hu Jintao Will Promote Trade and Stronger Diplomatic Ties


Robert Marquand writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Feted by Bill Gates, anticipating a 21-gun salute at the White House, spending $15 billion on US aircraft, software, farm and other goods, China's president Hu Jintao intends to show Americans this week that the world's fastest-rising power is not a threat. Mr. Hu is giving three speeches in four days, "more talking than he has done to the Chinese people all year," as a Western diplomatic source here puts it.

At home, Hu, the youngest man ever to enter China's inner circle and likely to be top leader until at least 2012, is well liked among the masses for the humility and genial persona he projects. But he is still not well known, even in elite Beijing circles. His status, habits, life, and advisers remain a mystery.

"He doesn't truly believe in Marxism, or open markets," says one Communist Party member who asked to remain anonymous. "He doesn't buy international revolution, or Western-style democracy. We know what he doesn't believe. We just aren't sure what he does believe. Even Chinese can't read his face very clearly."

Hu's views are not known on the most important debate in China today: balancing a "rightist" element that wants speedier reforms in openness, banking, and private property - potentially widening the wealth gap - with a "left" that wants less reform and foreign influence, and to redistribute wealth and lower the social strain among peasants. Hu has encouraged both sides.

Yet in this sense, Hu reflects present-day China: As leader, he has not yet found a clear pathway, sources say. His country is at a major juncture of greater expectation, but with no clear direction or footing, socially or politically. Hu is not a zealous ideologue, a visionary economist, nor is he ready to force a war over Taiwan. He is cautious, lawyerly, a survivor, say numerous scholars, diplomats, and party sources. To Chinese, he is as much a mystery as he is to the foreign community in Beijing. Whether he has yet consolidated power in China's secretive leadership enclave is still speculated about.

"He is difficult to quantify," says Russell Leigh Moses, at People's University in Beijing. "He hasn't cut off the argument between right and left, which leaves a lot of frustration out there."

Relations between Hu and the "Shanghai faction" of former leader Jiang Zemin, a set of "best and brightest" players, are unclear. Hu has made crucial appointments in the provinces, and runs three of the five internal foreign policy advisory groups. Yet Hu, whose leadership posts were in rural areas like Gansu, Guizhou, and Tibet, takes potshots from the corporate talent that stoked China's dazzling east coast commercial boom.

Hu, from a tea-selling family in Anhui, is a product of Mao's revolutionary youth brigades of the 1950s and '60s. His formative experience was in the brutal and extreme Cultural Revolution. As a student in the water-conservancy program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and member of the Communist Youth League, he trained fellow students in ideology. This mind-set left a powerful imprint. Recently, in Moscow, he said he loved Russia's great literature. Asked which works, he recalled a mid-'50s Soviet tract about the proper behavior of teenage Soviet "young pioneers."

Yet Hu's common touch makes him popular among ordinary Chinese. Many feel a nostalgia for the simple security of the Mao era. At a time of grumbling over high healthcare costs, Hu's "people's first" policy and "harmonious society" are seen as sincere. Unlike Mr. Jiang, an urbanite who played show tunes on the piano for foreign dignitaries, and loved opera (Jiang's $425 million French-designed opera house project opens next year), Hu seems stiff, earnest, youthful. If Jiang likes Italian opera, Hu is a local Beijing opera guy.

Hu's rise to power was positively meteoric. He was noticed by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in 1988. Deng was watching a video of the put-down of a popular uprising in Tibet, and asked about the young man giving orders to soldiers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

China's Hu: Well Liked, Little Known ; during US Visit, Hu Jintao Will Promote Trade and Stronger Diplomatic Ties
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.