&#91FOUNTAIN&#93The long march of Hu Jintao

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&#91FOUNTAIN&#93The long march of Hu Jintao

Political power has strange characteristics: When one approaches it, it moves away, but when one ignores it, it comes nearer. Power comes as fate to those who cultivate human merit and integrity. This is what Hu Jintao, China’s president, might say is the secret to power.
President Hu’s mother died when he was 7 years old. He grew up in a poor family engaged in tea sales. But he was a member of the petty bourgeoisie in the proletariat society Mao Zedong created. Thus, he was an object of ideological re-education.
When he entered Tsinghua University, one of Beijing’s most prestigious institutions of advanced learning, his high school teacher said, “With your academic performance, you may have entered Tsinghua, but you won’t be able to study in the first-class departments because of your poor family background.” That was the moment he realized he should depend on human merit and ability to succeed.
In the central political arena, Mr. Hu encountered obstacles to success. During the turbulence of the Cultural Revolution, when ideological confrontation was extreme, he was sent to Gansu, a poverty-stricken northwestern province. After undergoing various hardships, he returned to Beijing as a higher-ranking official. But three years later, he was demoted to a position in Guizhou, one of the China’s poorest provinces, because he was defeated in a political struggle with the so-called “Crown Princes party,” a group of sons of early revolutionaries.
Leaving his family behind in Beijing, Mr. Hu, at 43, took up his new post in Guizhou, later moving on to his next position, chief of the Tibet Autonomous region, far from the central government. Five years later, afflicted with mountain sickness, he returned to Beijing.
Invigorating people economically was Mr. Hu’s specialty. With his face brimming with cheerfulness, he said, “Set your mind free and base your thinking on a practical attitude, explore courageously and practice resolutely.” Mr. Hu said to Guizhou people: “Plenty of rainfall is good for hydroelectricity and mountainous land is good for tourism. Although there’s no silver, there are boundless coal resources.” Mr. Hu demonstrated his economic vision through research and implementation.
President Hu owes what he is today in part to China’s top leaders, like insightful Deng Xiaoping, who recognized the true worth of Mr. Hu who had held posts in remote regions.

by Chun Young-gi

The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoonAng Ilbo.
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