Born in a mountainous county of Hubei province 48 years ago, high-flyer Hu Chunhua started his career in Tibet right after graduating from Peking University. Despite having no family ties to President Hu Jintao , 'Little Hu' shares a similar career path with the president having risen through the ranks of the Communist Youth League.
By age 27, the younger Hu was promoted to deputy secretary of Tibet's Communist Youth League - the equivalent of a deputy provincial department chief, while Hu senior was Tibet's Communist Party boss. 'Little Hu' was promoted to party secretary of Inner Mongolia in late 2009.
Probably all too aware that he is regarded by some observers as the front runner among the so-called sixth generation Chinese leadership, Hu was apparently trying hard to stay in the background during this year's twin sessions of the NPC/CPPCC plenum.
In the open session of the Inner Mongolian delegation's meeting, Hu answered barely a third of the questions put to him. 'You are among the youngest provincial leaders and of the generation born in the 1960s, what experience could you share with us in taking up such an important office?' a reporter asked, following a question on whether Inner Mongolia was facing pressure in maintaining social stability.
'People seem quite interested in this question,' Hu replied, with a laugh and slight embarrassment. 'All I can say is that I am focused on doing my utmost for the autonomous region. But, on social stability, our political and legislative affairs committee deputy secretary knows more than me and will answer your question.'
Questions on the whereabouts of ethnic Mongolian dissident Hada, the economy or reforms were also diverted to his aides.
Hu's peer Sun Zhengcai, another widely tipped star of the sixth-generation leaders, seemed to have the solution to avoid putting himself in a potential awkward situation before foreign media. The Jilin province party secretary simply skipped the open session of his delegation's meeting this year.