China Leadership Monitor

The Succession of Hu Jintao

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

The anticipated succession of Hu Jintao to be China's top-ranking leader at the upcoming Sixteenth Party Congress will cap the outcome of a ten-year effort to groom him for the position. If Hu does in fact replace Jiang Zemin, the transition in leaders will mark an important new step in the effort, launched by Deng Xiaoping two decades ago, to institutionalize orderly processes in PRC politics. As the Party's top leader, Hu will likely play to the party's center to maintain his own power, while cautiously but steadily extending the liberalizing policies of Jiang Zemin in much the same manner that Jiang did those of his predecessor Deng Xiaoping.