Hu Jintao is the most powerful person in the world according to Forbes

According to other people (me included) he is not. The list of powerful here.

Question:

According to Forbes magazine is President of China Hu Jintao the most powerful person in the world. Would you say it is justified?

Answers:

Stefan Halper, Senior Fellow, Centre of International Studies and Senior Research Fellow at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge

No, I do not think Hu Jintao is the most powerful person in the world.

China, first of all, in simple economic term, Chinese economy is about one about one quarter of the size the American economy. The Chinese military is a regional military which has very limited capacity to project power beyond the immediate island chain. China has the liability of 1,4 or 1,5 billion people, the annual income of many is 2 , ooo USD on average or less. China has deep problem in urban-rural distinction, it has fissures within the Communist Party and within the People’s Liberation Army. They are generational differences in China.

In the country which is searching for an identity and has not been able to establish one if you ask  Chinese people in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang or Chengdu or in Tiber or Xinjiang what is it to be Chinese you will have different answers from every place. You will actually have a different answers from every person no matter where they live. This is a nation seeking cohesion, seeking identity, it defines itself in distinction to the West.

I really think that the Forbes magazine has been very provocative and proceeds from the lack of knowledge about the internal fissures and disymmetries within China.

The most powerful person in the world is of course the American President. I mean, this is no question about it. He has the most powerful military, the  most powerful economy and he has a very vigorous, vibrant democracy. It is not perfect, it’s difficult, he is having troubles with the opposition in the House of Representatives. All that is agreed. But I really think it is a dreadful mistake to think that somehow the United States will be unable to recover from recession. Because that’s not the case.

Jonathan Holslag, Research Fellow, Institute of Contemporary China Studies, Vrije University, Brussels.

Well, I think we should not overestimate the power of the Chinese president. First, China is not yet a very strong country. Indeed, it is spectacular how it keeps its growth on track, how it gains diplomatic leverage, and how it boosts its armed forces. But all in all, China still has still a long way to go and faces several important challenges.

This also reduces Hu’s maneuverability. Domestically he experiences growing pressure from all kinds of interest groups. Within the party he has to balance between reformists and conservatives. And while most compatriots expect him to stand strong to defend the national interests, other countries demand China to make very substantial compromises in its economic and foreign policies.

Rather than that Hu pulls all the strings, he is like a captain of a mammoth tanker with a broken wheel. On top of that, his boatsmen are at loggerheads over which course to follow.`

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