18th Party Congress

Hu Jintao's place in the Communist Party hierarchy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 November, 2012, 5:02am

What rank will Hu Jintao hold in the Communist Party hierarchy after he stands down as its general secretary? The answer to that will most likely provide some hint about the extent of Hu's residual influence.

Will he rank No 3, after his successor Xi Jinping and predecessor Jiang Zemin? If so, it will be a conspicuous sign that Xi will be overshadowed by the two previous party chiefs, even though the party has hailed another smooth transition of power?

Since Jiang handed over the baton to Hu 10 years ago his name has always ranked second after Hu's in the party hierarchy. This follows a tradition of showing respect to former party chiefs, taking into account their impact and legacy.

Jiang is always given a prominent position in state events he attends - a sign that he is still an influential figure. At a military parade celebrating the nation's 60th anniversary in 2009, Jiang was on a stage together with Hu to review the troops. But analysts say Hu's legacy in the party is likely to fade fast and he will not place himself before Jiang, meaning that the best he could hope for is No3 in the hierarchy.

The names of retired leaders appear on occasions such as major party celebrations, or when party elders pay tribute at the funerals of party veterans.

The order of the names strictly follows the hierarchy of the party. In the past 10 years, Jiang's name has always come after Hu's, but before Wu Bangguo's . Wu ranked second in the Politburo Standing Committee during Hu's administration.

But if Hu wants to break the tradition, he could rank ninth after Xi, Jiang and the new members of the Politburo Standing Committee. That would most likely not go down well among his supporters.

Professor Gu Su from Nanjing University said that with the political future of Hu's protégé Ling Jihua (his former chief of staff) in question, Hu does not have a right-hand man capable of consolidating respect for him inside the party.

But Hu will not be totally out of the picture because party elders always have some say in party affairs.

Professor Wang Yukai of the Chinese Academy of Governance said: "Hu's views will still be very important when the new leaders consult the elders."