Hu Jintao was Communist China's top leader from 2002 until 2012. He was president, chairman of the Military Commission, and general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. He succeeded Jiang Zemin in all of these positions. In 2012, Hu stepped down as party leader as Xi Jinping succeeded him and currently rules the country.
The Chinese Communist Party is divided into three factions, the Shanghai, Zhenjiang, and Beijing factions. The Shanghai faction is led by Jiang Zemin, the Zhenjiang faction is led by Xi Jinping, and the Beijing faction is led by Hu Jintao. Each one of the three tries to nullify the influence of the other factions.
In November 2002, the 16th Communist Party Congress elected Hu Jintao, who in 1992 was designated by Deng Xiaoping as the "core" of the fourth-generation leaders, the new General Secretary.
In March 2003, General Secretary Hu Jintao was elected President at the 10th National People's Congress. Jiang Zemin retained the chairmanship of the Central Military Commission and Commander-in-Chief of the armed services. At the Fourth Party Plenum in September 2004, Jiang Zemin retired from the Central Military Commission, passing the Chairmanship and control of the People's Liberation Army to President Hu Jintao.
In 2008 China's human rights record remained poor and worsened in some areas. During the year the government increased its severe cultural and religious repression of ethnic minorities in Tibetan areas and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), increased detention and harassment of dissidents and petitioners, and maintained tight controls on freedom of speech and the Internet. Abuses peaked around high-profile events, such as the Olympics and the unrest in Tibet. As in previous years, citizens did not have the right to change their government. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), both local and international, continued to face intense scrutiny and restrictions. Other serious human rights abuses included extrajudicial killings, torture and coerced confessions of prisoners, and the use of forced labor, including prison labor. Workers cannot choose an independent union to represent them in the workplace, and the law does not protect workers' right to strike. The government continued to monitor, harass, detain, arrest, and imprison journalists, writers, activists, and defense lawyers and their families, many of whom were seeking to exercise their rights under the law.
In December 2009, China executed a man named Akmal Shaikh for drug smuggling. There is evidence that Shaikh was mentally ill, but he was not given a psychological exam of any sort before the trial. He was not given an examination because the Chinese government declared that neither Shaikh or his family could prove he was mentally ill through documentation or family history. The British government made many requests for clemency, including at an eleventh-hour meeting with the Chinese ambassador, but they were consistently ignored.
Crimes Against Humanity
- See U.S. State Department, 2008 Human Rights Report: China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau) Feb. 25, 2009