Hu Jintao (China)
Hu Jintao was nominated general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Nov. 2002, formally succeeding Jiang Zemin as head of state in March 2003 and as chairman of the Central Military Commission in Sept. 2004. Although widely perceived as a conservative—having supported the Tiananmen Square massacres in the late 1980s and cracked down on separatism in Tibet—he has continued Jiang’s cautious reformist policies. He has maintained the drive for rapid industrial growth and also further developed China’s international contacts, undertaking visits as state president to Latin America, Australia, Canada, Central Asia, the UK, USA and, in particular, Africa.
Much of Hu’s early history is disputed. He is believed to have been born in Dec. 1942 in Jixi, Anhui Province. His mother died when he was six and he was subsequently raised by an aunt. In 1959 he began engineering studies at Qinghua University and graduated in 1964, the same year in which he joined the...