China`s leader Hu Jintao retires

Chinese President Hu Jintao formally retired handing over the baton to his successor Xi Jinping in a smooth transfer of power.

Updated: Mar 14, 2013, 17:06 PM IST

Beijing: Chinese President Hu Jintao, under whose decade long leadership relations between India and China have improved, formally retired on Thursday handing over the baton to his successor Xi Jinping in a smooth transfer of power.

The four-month-long once-in-a-decade leadership was completed today with the formal election of Xi as new President by the legislature, the National People`s Congress, (NPC).

Last November, Hu, 70, surprised the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) cadre by relinquishing the post of head of military to Xi while stepping down as Party General Secretary, unlike the former leader Jiang Zemin who retained the post for two years after retiring as president.

Hu reportedly chose to retire completely to avoid twin power centres weakening the authority of the President and Party Chief.

He along Premier Wen Jiabao, 70, and host of leaders withdraw to a quite life and would enjoy the substantial benefits provided by the state for retiring top party leaders.

Suave but reserved, Hu, a hydraulic engineer by education before joining the ruling Communist Party 1968, came to power along with outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao in 2003 riding the wave of stability brought in by late pro-reform leader Deng Xiaoping.

"In the long term we may well view the Hu and Wen period as a great success. It made China a truly wealthy and significant country, saw off the threats of the economic crisis in 2008, and managed to build up national esteem and importance", a BBC commentary said summing their decade long rule.

The political elite remained unified enough to see through a tricky leadership change, despite needing to sacrifice one of their members - Bo Xilai, (the disgraced Communist Party leader), it said.

Hu was able to create consensus over this period and to maintain the Party`s privileged place in society, it said.It was during their era the success of economic reforms was felt as China had emerged as the second largest economy surpassing Japan with chances of catching with US in the next decade.

In the last five years, China`s GDP virtually doubled from USD 4.2 trillion to USD 8.3 trillion.

The economic development held millions of Chinese to come above the poverty line even though the party is saddled with issues like heavy corruption and dilution of ideology in the Party ranks.

From India`s point of view, Hu-Wen era had ensured major turnaround in bilateral relations with trade in 2011 touching about USD 74 billion while solidifying a bilateral mechanism headed by Special Representatives to resolve the border dispute.

Hu-Wen, who took over power after the Kargil misadventure by China`s all-weather ally Pakistan, tried to de-link Pak factor out of Sino-Indian relations even though the close-military ties between Beijing and Islamabad remained a source of worry for Indian strategic planners.

Under the their tenure, China`s Special Representative, Dai Bingguo, who too will also be retiring, held 15 rounds of talks with Indian counterparts.

In the last round of the talks held in December here with National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon, the two sides reached a "common understanding" on the progress made so far to work for a frame-work to resolve the dispute.

India asserts that the dispute covered about 4,000 km, while China claims that it confined to about 2000 km to the area of Arunachal Pradesh, which it refers as Southern Tibet.