Hu Jintao ho͞o´ jĭn´tou´ [key], 1942–, Chinese political leader, b. Jixi, Anhui prov. A hydroelectric engineering graduate (1965) of Tsinghua Univ., he joined the Chinese Communist party in 1964 and worked for the ministry of water conservancy until 1974, when he transferred to the Gansu Provincial Construction Committee. Also rising in the party, he attained leadership positions in the Communist Youth League in the early 1980s, became a member of the party's central committee in 1982 (initially as an alternate), and was party leader in Guizhou (1985–88) and Tibet (1988–92), where he imposed martial law in order to suppress Tibetan nationalists. In 1992, sponsored by Deng Xiaoping , he was elected to the standing committee of the party's politburo, serving as president of the party school from 1993. Hu became vice president of China in 1998 and succeeded Jiang Zemin as general secretary of the Communist party in 2002 and as president of China the following year. He also became (2004) chairman of the important party and national central military commissions. As China's leader, Hu emphasized achieving sustainable economic growth that benefited rural as well as urban areas; economic reform proceeded slowly during his tenure, and state-owned enterprises strengthened their economic roles somewhat. He stepped down as party leader in 2012 and as president in 2013, and was succeeded by Xi Jinping .
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