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Hu Jintao

President of China

Born: December 1942
Birthplace: Anhui Province, China
Best known as:

President of the People's Republic of China, 2003-13

Hu Jintao became president of the People's Republic of China in 2003, succeeding Jiang Zemin. Hu, a trained engineer, joined the communist party in 1964 and quickly worked his way up, gaining notice in Beijing as a leader in the Communist Youth League. Most of his career was spent in western China, overseeing Gansu, Guizhou and Tibet. Picked for the Central Committee's Political Bureau in 1992 by Deng Xiaoping, Hu was the first modern Chinese leader to start his political career after the 1949 communist revolution. In 2002 all other senior leaders of the Central Committee stepped down to make way for a "fourth generation" of party officials, but Hu remained, leading political analysts to conclude that Hu would eventually take over for President Jiang Zemin. (The same year Hu was named General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.) Although considered a reformer by some, Hu also demonstrated his loyalty to traditional policies of Beijing, including the rigid control over political opposition; in 1989 Hu imposed martial law in Tibet to deter pro-independence demonstrations. After taking office as president, Hu took charge of China's military and reached out diplomatically to countries around the world. He was succeeded in 2013 by Xi Jinping.

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