Sunday, Dec. 19, 2004

Hu Jintao

Once upon a time, he was just a bureaucrat from the provinces. Now, after the first orderly transfer of power in China's communist history, Hu is the undisputed leader of Asia's economic engine. Since taking over as military chief in September, China's President has resisted calls to revalue the currency, pushed to moderate growth and targeted the gap between rich and poor. While stressing good relations with key trading partners, including the U.S., Hu hasn't got too friendly. Western-style democracy, he has said, is a "blind alley."