He concurrently holds four major positions in the Chinese leadership hierarchy: Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the 15th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (he is also listed first among members of the Secretariat of the 15th Central Committee); Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission; State Vice President; President of the Central Party School. Like most of China’s current top Chinese leaders, Hu is a technocrat, having studied hydroelectric engineering at Qinghua University.
He joined the Party in 1964, and his political career was subsequently marked by his work in some of China’s most remote and backward provinces, leadership positions with the Communist Youth League and the All-China Youth Federation, and his comparatively youthful ascent to the top-most leadership of the China. He spent much of early career rising through the ranks of one of China’s poorest provinces, Gansu, where he had been "sent down" during the Cultural Revolution in 1968.
From there, many point to his rapid rise to power based on savvy political instincts. At 39, he was the youngest member of the Party Central Committee in 1982. He was the youngest provincial governor in power, 42, when he took the party chief position in Guizhou in 1985. In 1988, he was appointed to head Tibet, where, in early 1989, he oversaw the violent suppression of Tibetan unrest, and then held the lid on during the Tiananmen crisis of April-June that year. He was promoted to the Political Bureau Standing Committee in 1992, and rose to become the fifth most powerful person in China, after Jiang Zemin, Zhu Rongji, Li Peng, and Li Ruihuan.
Hu has made numerous trips abroad in recent years, including official tours to Asian neighbors such as Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam, to the Middle East, Africa, and South America. But he has spent no extended period in foreign countries, such as Jiang Zemin (who lived a little less than a year training at the Stalin Autoworks in Moscow, 1955-1956) and Deng Xiaoping (who spent six years as a student in France, 1920-1926). Hu has made no trips to either the United States or Europe, and has kept contact with officials from those countries to a minimum. Hu made his first foray to Western countries in a two-week tour that began October 27, 2001, traveling to Russia, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, and Germany. On this journey, he meets many of the world’s best-known leaders, including Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, Lionel Jospin, and Gerhard Schroeder.
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