China president Hu thanks people after reinstatement

BEIJING – In his characteristically low-key fashion, President Hu Jintao has put his stamp on China’s direction, sidelined key rivals, taken over as head of the military and emerged as pre-eminent leader after months of infighting.

In an address yesterday after being re-anointed as Communist Party leader, Hu struck a typically humble note, thanking ordinary Chinese for their confidence while never mentioning the bruising effort that brought him the crowning moment.

In the past five years, “Hu was certainly first among equals. Now there are no such clear equals,” said Cheng Li, a watcher of elite Chinese politics at Washington’s Brookings Institution. “Hu Jintao is doing very well.”

Hu’s victory was far from unconditional. With the towering figures of the communist revolution long gone, no Chinese leader commands respect across the party, government, military and society at large to rule single-handedly. Rather the party’s top ranks must manage collectively, fashioning consensus and coalitions.