THE member of the politburo Standing Committee in charge of organisation, Mr Hu Jintao, has toed a conservative line on the propagation of young leaders. In a speech in Wuhan on the education of young cadres, Mr Hu put ''a correct political direction'' and a ''Marxist standpoint'' as foremost criteria for excellence as well as promotion. Mr Hu, 50, was taking part in a national ''conference to exchange experience in the training and maturation of young cadres''. A former party boss of Tibet, Mr Hu was elevated to the supreme politburo Standing Committee last October to take charge of personnel and discipline. On the qualities for leadership, Mr Hu asked young officials to ''insist upon a correct political orientation, and to resolutely go down the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics''. ''Cadres should have the requisite theoretical attainments, so that they can use the Marxist standpoint, perspective and methods to correctly learn about and solve problems,'' he said. While the politburo heavyweight cited the importance of modern management and the need to ''liberate one's thoughts'', he underscored traditional values like ''plain living and hard struggle as well as selfless dedication''. And while Mr Hu asked the neophytes to break new grounds, he also admonished them to inherit and develop the superior tradition of the party. Political analysts said the conservative nature of Mr Hu's remarks was evident when they were compared with talks given by patriarch Mr Deng Xiaoping while he was touring southern Guangdong a year ago. While talking about propagating talents, the patriarch underscored the importance of selecting cadres with ''solid reformist credentials'' who were willing to break with the past. Mr Deng urged officials to put their priority on fighting leftism and outdated ideology. The analysts said that while Mr Hu was sometimes identified as a reformist because of his association with the Communist Youth League, he was a protege of his predecessor as politburo member in charge of organisation, Mr Song Ping. A veteran hard-liner, Mr Song has tried to resist Mr Deng's goal of promoting a large number of radical, market-oriented reformists.