“Who is Hu?” USA examines potential Chinese leader

PRAVDA.Ru correspondent in Beijing Andrei Krushinsky reports:

An American analyst summed up Chinese Vice-president Hu Jintao’s visit to the USA with the words: “The Chinese vice-president was welcomed in the USA as if he were a president.” Another analyst said, “Regarding his present-day position, the Chinese vice-president cannot declare anything important or significant.”

Recently, major Chinese leaders have completed really sensational trips: Chinese President Jiang Zemin (who is the number) visited the Middle East and Premier of the Chinese State Council Zhu Rongji (number three) paid a visit to Africa. However, world media paid more attention to the foreign trip of Vice-President Hu Jintao than to the two mentioned above visits. Hu Jintao number five in China.

China is in for a total change of the party and governmental leadership at the end of 2002 – beginning of 2003, when regular Communist congress and session of the All-Chinese People’s Representatives Assembly are to take place. According to well-grounded forecasts, the key role in the government will be given to a 59-year-old Hu Jintao (the youngest among the seven members of the standing committee in the Communist political bureau). Lots of publications on Hu Jintao’s visit to the USA appeared in the Western press under the titles “Who is Hu," “ Hu Jintao’s inaugural visit to the USA,” and others of this kind.

Both sides, the West and China, are in search now for the answer to “Who is Hu?”. Western experts suppose, the China leadership hesitated to allow the trip to the USA (as is believed, Hu Jintao has been avoiding contacts with the West for many years already). Thus, a conclusion arises: Beijing treats the recent visit of Hu Jintao as a sort of examination for a potential leader. The main objective of a person under examination, as we know, is not to fail the exam. An American newspaper wrote: “For fear of making a mistake, Hu Jintao tried to minimize contacts with media.”

The Chinese vice-premier met with several US officials, George W.Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, US congressional leaders, and dozens of unofficial persons, who treated Hu Jintao as the number one enemy and tested him thoroughly.

Another objective of the visit was a mutual desire to amend relations between the two countries. Beijing expected that President Bush and the US administration would make some concessions regarding vexed problems, and the White House seemed eager to improve the impression made on China by weapons sales to Taiwan. After numerous conflicts, when both sides followed a “pike against pike” tactic, diplomatic plays “at give-away” have started. It is not accidental that the permit of the China authorities given to a US aircraft-carrier to moor in Hong Kong coincided with Hu Jintao’s visit to the USA (earlier the Chinese authorities would not issue such permissions). George W.Bush gave up his principles and was extremely polite during the visit of the Chinese vice-president.

No estimates of the “inaugural examination” as given by both sides have been reported yet. One thing is evident, USA–China relationships have shifted towards improvement. Although, as a result of the visit, only one agreement was achieved concerning the recommencement of contacts between militaries, as the relations were suspended because of the US spy plane scandal last year. Andrei Krushinsky PRAVDA.Ru Beijing

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/05/07/40795.html

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