US President Barack Obama will meet this week with China’s top leaders during his first visit to the Asian giant since taking office. The following are brief biographies of those officials:
-- President Hu Jintao --
China’s most powerful leader not only serves as the nation’s president, but is the general secretary of the ruling Communist Party and commander-in-chief of the military.
Hand-picked by late reformist leader Deng Xiaoping in 1992 to succeed Jiang Zemin, the 66-year-old Hu has been seen as a pragmatist and consensus-builder since taking the reins of power in the party in 2002 and the presidency the following year.
Trained as an engineer at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University, Hu cut his political teeth by running the party’s Youth League and later was credited with quelling unrest in Tibet in 1989 when he was the region’s top leader.
His rise to the top has been seen as the first non-violent transfer of political power during the Communist Party’s rule which began with the civil war victory by the armies of revolutionary leader Mao Zedong in 1949.
-- Parliamentary Speaker Wu Bangguo --
Wu is viewed as a hard-nosed politician who rose to the highest echelons of power in China through force of character and political cunning.
As head of the National People’s Congress, the 68-year-old Wu is ranked number two on the nine-member standing committee of the party’s Politburo.
A trained engineer, Wu rose through the ranks of industry in Shanghai, where he became the city’s top leader in 1991. As vice-premier from 1995 to 2002, he made his mark with a forceful reform of the state-owned enterprise sector.
-- Premier Wen Jiabao --
The soft-spoken Wen is widely seen as the populist face of the Chinese leadership, a view reinforced by his visits to AIDS patients and victims of last year’s Sichuan earthquake that left 87,000 people dead.
A trained geologist, Wen came to prominence when he appeared with then-premier Zhao Ziyang at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square during the 1989 democracy protests that were brutally crushed by the military only days later.
Zhao was later ousted but Wen, 67, continued to be promoted, serving as a vice premier in charge of finance and agriculture before being named prime minister in 2003.
-- Shanghai Communist party chief Yu Zhengsheng --
Yu, 64, was named as Shanghai’s top party official in 2007 following a scandal involving his ousted predecessor Chen Liangyu, who was subsequently jailed for corruption in 2008.
A relative stranger to China’s financial centre, Yu -- a member of the party’s Politburo -- formerly served as the top party official in Hubei province after rising through the ranks in Shandong province.
-- Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng --
Han, who was named Shanghai’s youngest-ever mayor in 2003 at the age of 48, has successfully separated himself from the corruption scandal that led to the jailing of his former boss Chen.
Born in Zhejiang province, Han graduated from Shanghai’s Fudan University in 1985 before embarking on a career in the city’s bureaucracy.