23 October, 2020


He has a 'keen intellect', is 'cautious but articulate' and has a terrific memory. But for all that, China's new chief remains an unknown quantity. More Coverage

China's leaders are experts at pomp and ceremony, especially on formal occasions like the National Congress of the Communist Party. The atmosphere and pantomime of these carefully-orchestrated ceremonies are often more revealing than what the secretive Chinese leadership articulates through speeches. No wonder most observers felt China's new boss Hu Jintao's choice of a western-style business suit, rather than the traditional Chinese collar-less or Mao suit, highlighted more than anything the start of a new era of capitalist-communism or "socialist market economy". It was certainly meant to stress the new party leader's commitment to economic reform. "He has a keen intellect and surprised us all with his thorough understanding of international economics," says a senior European diplomat who met Hu at the time he visited Europe two years ago.

Little is known about the 59-year-old Hu even though he now holds the most powerful job in Chinese politics: general secretary of the Communist Party. Most people who have met him say he's a brilliant but impassive man who never...


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