Sri Mulyani Indrawati, finance minister,
Indonesias finance minister has played a crucial
role in restoring the countrys economy to a level
unthinkable 10 years ago
When Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesias
finance minister, met Timothy Geithner, secretary to the US
Treasury, at the September G-20 meetings the two clearly had a
lot to talk about not least, Indonesias success
story over the past decade.
Ten years ago Indrawati was Indonesias
representative at the IMF while Geithner, then assistant
secretary for international affairs at the US Treasury, was
responsible for directing the IMFs policy on
In the decade since, Indonesia, the worlds
most populated country, has gone from being an economic and
political basket case, to becoming south-east Asias
strongest and newest democracy, reasserting
itself as a nation of geopolitical importance, while
transforming its economy beyond recognition.
Much of that progress is down to Indrawati, who has
played a crucial role in guiding back the countrys
economy to a level unthinkable 10 years ago. Back then, the
IMFs infamous $43 billion rescue package signed in
January 1998 by then-president Suharto, with IMF chief Michel
Camdessus looming imperiously over him, helped push Indonesia
into weeks of widespread street chaos that culminated in the
end of the dictators 32-year rule.
Geithner, alongside his then-boss Lawrence Summers,
drew on his experience dealing with Latin Americas debt
crises to administer a brutal prescription to Asia in 1997.
Paul Keating, Australian prime minister at the time, has argued
that the Funds approach undermined its credibility.
Suhartos government delivered 21 years of 7%
compound growth. It takes a gigantic fool to mess that up. But
the IMF messed it up, he said. The end result was
the biggest fall in GDP in the 20th century. That dubious
distinction went to Indonesia.
The bitter medicine swallowed by much of the region
has subsequently meant that Asia has done its level best to
avoid ever having to return to the IMF as the global
financial crisis demonstrates instead building up
unprecedented foreign exchange reserves and, in the case of
China, maybe stoking the boom that bust
For Indonesia, Indrawati has arguably been the main
architect of and driving force behind the
domestic-focused economy that has seen Indonesia avoid
In mid-September the World Bank raised its 2009
growth forecast for Indonesias GDP to 4.3% from 3.5%. The
economy has fared better than neighbours including Thailand,
Malaysia and Singapore, which slid into recession as exports
collapsed amid the global slump.
With the financial crisis in the US...we have
a new environment where the global economy cannot be relied
upon as a safety net, she told Emerging Markets in an
interview at the height of the global financial crisis last
She has also helped steer the economy back to safer
waters, not least by taking a hard line on corruption. Her
first major decisions were to fire the heads of the notorious
tax and customs departments, and she has also moved against
prominent business interests.
Indonesias pre-eminence in global capital
markets is another of Indrawatis achievements; the
country has become Asias premier sovereign borrower, a
fact that has reduced its debt servicing costs.
Indrawati is not one to gloat, but she means it
when she says that the US is learning what Indonesia learnt
the social cost of a financial crisis makes for very
difficult decisions. In the 12 years since Asia unravelled
though, it is the IMF and the US government that
has changed its views on how to deal with failing banks.
Ali Babacan, Deputy Prime Minister,
From economic basket case to poster child for prudent
reform, Turkey has come a long way over the past
In its seven years in power, the AKP (Justice and
Development Party) has set in motion an ambitious agenda of
shrewd and disciplined emerging market
Its a story that has also thrust an
economically emboldened nation into a more assertive role on
the global stage underscoring its geostrategic
importance at the crossroads of East and West.
At the heart of this transformation is Ali Babacan.
One of the founders of the AKP in 2001, Babacan was appointed
economy minister in 2002, at the age of 35. With the twin
anchors of an IMF programme and EU membership negotiations,
Babacan pressed ahead with a bold plan of spending cuts and
The basic point Babacan makes is this: Turkey will
continue to stick to its guns, no matter what, and irrespective
of anyone elses prescriptions: Whether its
the IMF, World Bank, EU or whatever, it doesnt matter.
Just look at what we have said and what we are doing, he
told Emerging Markets shortly after taking office.
Seven years later, the facts speak for themselves.
Government debt to GDP ratio has fallen from 74% in 2002 to 39%
in 2008. And Turkey has finally escaped the inflation trap that
dogged it for so many decades; this year, inflation fell to
under 10%. Its a phenomenal achievement, says
Mahmut Kaya, chief economist at Garanti Securities.
Babacan has also played a role in the clean-up of
Turkeys banking system, which was transformed in the
early years of the decade from a crisis-prone mess to one of
the worlds few banking systems that could comfortably
ride out the credit crunch without state support.
He attributes Turkeys economic success to the
fact that after a decade of weak coalition governments in
the 1990s, we have had a single-party government with a clear
idea of economic policy.
In 2005, he was appointed chief negotiator with the
EU over Turkeys potential accession to the union.
Progress has been slow, as the EU is still struggling to digest
(and bail out) its new members in eastern and central Europe.
It is also grappling with questions of whether such a large,
young and Muslim-majority country like Turkey could fit into
The lure of EU accession has proved a powerful
dynamic for reforms, Babacan says: Were in the
process of reforming our law courts, to make them fairer and
more independent. And in this area, we have useful benchmarks
in the EU. The EU isnt right about everything, but in the
area of democracy and human rights, its norms are
Babacan recently returned to the economy ministry
after a stint at the ministry of foreign affairs. He faces a
tough time now, as the government struggles to contain a 6%
budget deficit while also bringing the country out of recession
and back to growth.
He recently published a medium-term economic
programme, and the government is set to introduce a fiscal rule
in 2011. This is the first time in Turkeys history
we have used such a rule, he says.
Critics say Babacan is too controlled by his prime
minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His loyalty to the prime
minister is 100%. If Erdogan tells him to do something, he does
it, says one former government official.
But others say the relationship works both ways.
The prime minister values his decisions and listens to
him, says Tevfik Aksoy, a senior economist at Morgan
Stanley in London. Julian
Alexei Kudrin, Deputy Prime Minister, Russian
Long the lone voice of liberal economic reform in a
government dominated by a statist centrism, Kudrins
prudence has been vindicated
When Alexei Kudrin was appointed Russian finance
minister in May 2000, the countrys finances were in
disarray. The government was rated junk by all the rating
agencies, having defaulted on its domestic debt in 1998. Its
debt to GDP ratio was 90%. Inflation was around 40%. The
central banks reserves were just $28 billion, and the
government was begging for money from the IMF.
In the years that followed, Kudrin played a key
role in Russias rehabilitation and in the rise of
Russia as a new economic and geopolitical power.
Kudrin, widely credited with highly effective
management of Russias energy windfall, has long been a
lonely voice of liberal economic reform in a government
increasingly dominated by statist centrism. In an interview
with Emerging Markets at the height of Russias boom, he
admitted to being under a great deal of political
pressure to loosen budget discipline. But, he vowed to
carry the reformist torch and limit the impact on the economy
of the bureaucratism and corruption that result from the
excessive influence of the state.
Today, Russia may be nursing its wounds from its
most severe economic shock in a decade, but its state debt to
GDP ratio is 7.5% the lowest in the G-20. Russia has
been investment grade since late 2003, and since 2006 it has
been a net creditor to other nations and to the IMF itself. The
government has around $175 billion in two sovereign wealth
funds, and the central bank has around $400 billion in
reserves, albeit down from a record $597.5 billion in early
August last year, just before the financial crisis.
Kudrins boldest move has been his defence of
Russias Stabilization Fund, into which the government
poured its billions of petro-dollars as the oil price rose from
1999 onwards. The fund may have been someone elses idea
that boast belongs to Andrei Illarionov, former chief
economic adviser to the president but it is Kudrin who
managed its creation, and who has bravely defended consistent
attempts by bureaucrats, oligarchs, and spendthrifts to raid
it. The only use he would allow for the fund, for many years,
was to pay back the states debt although the rules
have been relaxed somewhat since then.
Kudrin has often expressed publicly his concern
about Russias dependence on raw materials export
revenues. We are reducing our dependence on oil, he
told Emerging Markets. The main means for achieving this
are the Stabilization Fund and judicious government
Kudrins thrift has attracted much criticism
from others, such as Kremlin economic adviser Arkady
Dvorkovich, who wanted the government to spend more in the boom
years. But the wisdom of Kudrins prudence is now
apparent, as the government has the money to try and support
its economy, which is forecast to contract by 8.5% this
Kudrin has been validated, says
Jonathan Schiffer, senior sovereign analyst at
The Stabilization Fund was an undoubted
success. It is always a good idea to save, Petr Aven,
president of Alfa Bank said recently.
Today, the government is spending hundreds of
billions of roubles trying to support the banking system and
large overly-indebted companies. Both the Reserve Fund and the
National Welfare Fund (the two sovereign funds that the
Stabilization Fund was split into last year) could be exhausted
by 2010, Kudrin says, and the government will borrow heavily on
the international debt markets.
Just as well, then, that Russias appeal as a
sovereign credit is strong not least thanks to
Kudrins efforts. Julian
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai,
Vice-President and Prime Minister, UAE
Dubai was the first city in the Middle East to take
itself seriously as a global financial player, thanks to
the foresight of its ruler. Though hit hard by the downturn,
its achievements provide an invaluable lesson to other aspirant
In a little over a decade, Sheikh Mohammed bin
Rashid Al Maktoum has transformed his emirate from a sleepy
trading port into one of the worlds most dynamic cities,
its skyline a forest of cranes, its shoreline a mass of marinas
and man-made archipelagos.
Dubai was the first city in the Middle East to take
a full role in the global market, selling itself as an
international trading and investment hub along the lines of
Hong Kong or Singapore. While the global downturn has taken a
heavy toll on the emirate, largely due to its dependence on
international commerce, there is no doubting its achievements.
Dubai is by far the most advanced city in the Arab world, and
that success is due in great part to Sheikh Mohammed.
For all the poor media coverage recently,
Dubai has achieved a critical mass, says Simon Williams,
head of regional research for HSBC. Its infrastructure is
second to none in the Middle East. That would not have been
possible if it hadnt set its sights high.
The mantra build it and they will come,
used to great effect in Dubais marketing programmes,
reflects Sheikh Mohammeds personal philosophy. The first
grand schemes to put Dubai on the map, such as the Palm
Jumeirah, an artificial island reclaimed from the Gulf, came
directly from the rulers office. Longer-term expatriates
often recount stories of Sheikh Mohammed driving around his
fiefdom in the 1990s and personally supervising public
Sheikh Mohammeds attitude to rulership is a
conscious break from tradition, and reflects his fathers
concerns about Dubais dependence on oil. My
grandfather rode a camel; my father rode a camel; I drive a
Mercedes, the late ruler said. My son drives a Land
Rover; his son will drive a Land Rover; but his son will ride a
Appointed crown prince in 1995, Sheikh
Mohammeds mission was to break that dependence. Early
real estate projects attracted business to the emirate, which
were encouraged by tax incentives and purpose-built free zones
such as the Dubai International Financial Centre and Dubai
Sheikh Mohammed then began to wield increasing
clout as an investor abroad. His primary vehicle is Dubai
Holding, an umbrella company with investments in a wide variety
of foreign companies such as the Tussauds Group and
DaimlerChrysler. Other such vehicles include Dubai World, a
state-owned body set up in 2006 which owns companies such as
international port operator DP World. In 2007 he established
the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, a $10 billion
global charity with a focus on education.
In January 2006, following the death of his
brother, he became ruler of Dubai, as well as vice-president
and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, the federation
that includes Dubai. Since then Dubais growth has been
frenetic. However, that came at a price. Following the downturn
last year, the emirates indebtedness is conservatively
estimated at around $80 billion.
The coming months will test Dubais ability to
restructure its debts and Sheikh Mohammeds model of
governance. After years of praise, the savage backlash from the
western press has been a surprise. Yet it is only a matter of
time before his real achievement, the creation of a modern
services-oriented city from the desert, is recognized for what
it is. Digby Lidstone
Hugo Chavez, President, Venezuela
Oil has been Chavezs calling card for years,
allowing him to finance his 21st-century socialism
and provide billions of dollars in assistance throughout Latin
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez made back-to-back
announcements in September that could once more redefine his
presidency and influence in the region.
The first was that China had agreed to invest $16
billion in Venezuela to produce oil in the Orinoco Belt. This
came just days after Venezuela reached a deal with a Russian
consortium to spend $20 billion in the same area. The two deals
would increase Venezuelas oil production by nearly
900,000 barrels a day.
A combination of political savvy and a
bloody-minded resolve to throw off foreign interference in
Latin American affairs have won Chavez a huge following across
the western hemisphere. The firebrand president has redrawn the
geopolitical map of the region and galvanized a resurgent
leftist nationalism among many Latin states and their
Yet the petrodollars pumped into Venezuela in
recent years and the new pledges of $36 billion have not
translated into economic or social stability at home.
Venezuela has the highest inflation in the region,
topping 17% this year, and GDP contracted by 1% in the first
half. The president had predicted that Venezuela would buck the
international financial crisis and grow. Most pressing is the
persistent rise in unemployment.
The economic troubles are compounded by rampant
crime, ageing and overused infrastructure and shortages of
These statistics led Chavez to follow the news of
the oil investments with the launch of another package to
stimulate the economy while controlling inflation. He said the
measures would include relaxing currency controls, issuing $4.6
billion in new internal debt and spending heavily through a
public works programme.
Chavez said the package would get Venezuelans back
to work, stimulate industry to lower the countrys
dependence on imports and grow the economy.
Analysts do not expect Chavez to disappear, but an
economic crisis at home could reduce his standing in Latin
America. I do not see countries pushing Chavez away, but
there could be less interest, says Michael Shifter, of
Jorge Castaneda, Mexicos former foreign
minister, says Chavez does have leeway even if Venezuelas
economy shrinks. His pull is immense with the small
countries, because his money there goes a long way, says
Evidence of this is the Venezuela-led trading
block, Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (Alba). Ecuador
is the second largest economy in Alba, but its GDP is three
times smaller than Venezuelas.
Castaneda says Venezuelas influence in
Argentina, Brazil and Mexico is negligible, while Chavez tries
to influence Chile, Colombia and Peru by establishing relations
with small parties and civil society groups.
Last years precipitous drop in oil prices
raised the spectre of a crippled Chavez, but with prices
rebounding, the colourful former military officers
largesse may continue for years to come.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President,
Lula da Silva has commanded international respect for
Brazil, paving the way for the nation to engage with a rapidly
changing global economy on terms that are increasingly its
They used to call him risky Lula before
he embraced pragmatic economic policies. Then he became
lucky Lula, as Brazils economic fortunes
revived on the back of the commodity boom a few years
But as Brazil appears to have emerged more quickly
from the global recession than many other countries, now
neither epithet applies. Brazils president, Luiz Inacio
Lula da Silva and the Brazilian economy have moved into a
different league, where flippant terms like risky and lucky are
Over the past years the former trade union leader
has positioned Brazil away from being a junior partner in world
affairs, into being a senior player behind the empowerment of
the Bric nations Brazil Russia, India and China
and the rise of the G20.
Brazil is seeking to play an actual part in
the debate to find a way out of the crisis and a reform of the
global financial governance, says Lula.
Brazils recent announcement that it
would lend some of its foreign exchange reserves to the IMF
an organization regularly vilified in the past by the
political leadership now running the country is symbolic
in many ways, says Joydeep Mukherji, a New York-based
Standard & Poors analyst. In addition to being
a political gesture of national pride, it is also a symbolic
acceptance of the emerging global economy, and Brazils
desire to engage with it on terms that are increasingly its
When Brazils finance minister Guido Mantega
insisted at last years IMF meeting in Washington that the
G20 should host presidential summits rather than
just meetings of ministers and central bank governors
the idea was met with scepticism.
But thanks to the support of other world leaders
such as Frances president Nicolas Sarkozy, the G20
has gradually gained greater political relevance than the
G8. Things obviously happen more slowly than we
would like them to happen, Lula said after a recent
meeting with Sarkozy. But it has already become clear
that the world would not survive another wave of speculation,
such as the one what we are currently seeing.
Lula, as Brazilian head of state, is campaigning
for change and a banking system that creates accountability and
criticizes speculators greed, and the lack of
controls and limits for these speculative transactions.
Next to the visiting UK prime minister, Gordon Brown, last year
he lashed out at white, blue-eyed bankers who
needed to be responsible for the financial mess they had
created. His choice of words then was no accident. This
September, he repeated the same diatribe against blue-eyed
bankers who should foot the bill as they were
responsible for the crisis.
The world cannot forget what happened last
year. If [the global economy] did not collapse, it is because
states came back to centre stage and played an extraordinary
role, Lula says. The idea according to which the
market was the solution to everything has failed: the market
may solve one part of the problem, but the state must show the
way. Thierry Ogier
Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister, Russian
Putin remains the man behind Russias resurgence as
a force to be reckoned with both at home and
Like Banquos ghost, Vladimir Vladimirovich
Putin never quite seems to depart the scene. The
57-year-olds route to the top in Russia was long and
winding, including a stint as a KGB officer in the former East
Germany, and culminating in two terms from May 2000 as the
countrys president. Unwilling to leave the corridors of
power, after stepping down in 2008 Putin simply settled into
the prime ministers seat and last month dropped
his heaviest hint yet that he plans to return to his former
Perhaps more than any foreign leader outside the
Middle East, the Leningrad-born Putin vexes western nations.
Within Russia his popularity rating, as projected by the
Moscow-based Levada Centre, never dipped below 60%; he stepped
down as president with his rating in the high 80s.
Putin managed to get under the skin of the
Americans, and to claw back much that Russians crave most:
respect. When Putin took over as acting president on the final
day of 1999, Russia was in trouble. The ailing former
president, Boris Yeltsin, once a force for good on both the
political and economic stage, had placed the country in the
hands of a group of ultra-wealthy oligarchs chancers who
had bought vast parcels of state assets during the
privatizations of the early 1990s.
Putin entered power determined to make those
chancers walk in line. Some were drawn into his orbit
notably Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea football club.
Others were allowed to perish, such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky,
the former head of energy firm Yukos.
Having established himself as the man in charge,
Putin set out to spruce up the ailing economy. In 2001, he
slashed income tax to 15%. Next he renationalized key assets
creating a clutch of flagship energy and commodity giants from
Gazprom to Norilsk Nickel.
Those measures and others like them transformed a
malnourished country. Aided by an energy boom, Russias
economic fortunes revived and thrived, turning a yawning fiscal
deficit into a massive surplus. In the 1990s Russias
economy contracted each year bar 1997; under Putins
presidency, GDP expanded every single year. Employment numbers
rose; wealth was created; Russian firms sold shares overseas;
foreign direct investment rose from $2 billion in 2000 to $30
billion in 2007, according to the Federal Statistics
By 2007 even America was describing Russia as a
returning superpower. Yet reform has not been all positive. FDI
dipped to $27 billion last year, and multinational corporates
are increasingly distrustful of an arbitrary and often
foreigner-hostile regulatory framework.
Global firms from BP to Norways Telenor have
fallen foul of the Kremlin in recent years. Swedens Ikea
chose to scrap investment plans entirely. In the World
Banks latest report charting the ease of doing business
globally, the Russian Federation ranked 120th out of 183
nations, behind Bangladesh, Swaziland and Kosovo.
Putin is still seen as Russias most powerful
person. But the current president, Dmitry Medvedev, a Putin
protege, is creating his own power base, surrounding himself
with trusted aides and allies from the more liberal,
technocratic wing of the Kremlin.
Medvedev also sees Russias future in nuanced
terms: as an inclusive part of the global economy; a would-be
member of the World Trade Organization; a rounded nation less
reliant on energy prices. Putin, by all accounts, sees
Russias future through a more isolationist prism, as a
carbon-based superpower with a few rogue friends in the Middle
East and South Asia.
If oil prices stay fairly low, Medvedev could
become the man in charge: an erstwhile protege and prince
finally making the grade as Russias first technocratic
king. But thats a long way off yet.
Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister,
He has secured his place in history as the
architect of one of worlds most ambitious experiments:
transforming Indias eco-nomy. Buoyed by those results,
the prime minister is now taking his efforts to the world
When Manmohan Singh rode into the G20 summit
in Pittsburgh last month and declared that trade protectionism
and a premature withdrawal of stimulus threaten to
strangle the global economic recovery, leaders across the world
Amid a spat about the US imposition of
environmental controls on Chinese goods, Singh contended that
western economies are seeking a back-door route to
protectionism in a year when trade volumes are falling for the
first time in 25 years.
Boosted by a May re-election, Singh is not fighting
for his political life unlike many of his G20
counterparts. India is set to expand by an eye-watering 5.4%
this year while developed economies contract 3.3%.
And Singh certainly has the credibility to lecture
the developed world on economic policy especially
reining in soaring government debt while taking steps to
rebalance their economies and introduce new financial
regulation. He has gone through that ordeal himself.
In 1991, Singh, then finance minister, faced a
balance-of-payments crisis. Foreign exchange reserves had sunk
to a mere $1 billion, just enough to pay for a couple of
weeks imports. Bold steps had to be taken to stem the
crisis, Singh told the newly elected prime minister Narasimha
In the next five years, Singh launched the most
dramatic changes in economic policy since the early years of
newly independent India. He abolished stifling controls and
regulations on industry, lowered tariffs, simplified the tax
system, opened the economy for private investment and
deregulated interest rates.
The economy turned around, inflation fell, and
foreign exchange reserves rose. People tend to forget
that Indias position today, with surging capital inflows
and huge forex reserves, is a dramatic change from the
situation the country faced in 1991, says Bimal Jalan, a
former Indian central bank governor.
Unexpectedly thrust into power in 2004, Singh has,
nevertheless, pursued a moderate pace of liberalization as
prime minister. There is no contradiction between our
commitment to social justice and equity, and our determination
to build a more efficient and open economy, he said in a
previous interview with Emerging Markets. In fact, one
will enable the other. Singh emphasizes the need to put
in place social safety nets that take care of the losers
and give them the required support to find new sources of
employment and income generation.
Since 2004, his government has launched a huge
national rural employment guarantee programme, an ambitious
plan to overhaul urban and rural infrastructure, and pursued
affirmative action to help Indias minorities and lower
Growth, says Singh, is a necessary condition
of improving the human condition, but it is not a sufficient
condition. It must be backed by credible measures to see that
the fruits of growth accrue to the largest number of people,
that the costs of growth are not borne excessively by those
least equipped to bear those costs.
While crafting the growth model for a population of
1.2 billion people, Singh in his second term is also redoubling
his efforts on foreign policy. The Indian premier, together
with the leaders of Brazil, Russia and India, is aggressively
pushing reform of the international financial institutions to
reflect the changing world order. Sid
Hu Jintao, President, Peoples Republic of
Hu Jintaos tenure in office has coincided with
Chinas global economic ascendancy. But the coming years
will be harder as the nation needs its people to buy more,
rather than relying on rising exports
For a man who has spent most of his adult life
navigating the murky byways of Chinese politics, Hu Jintao has
remained a shadowy figure. Chinas political and military
chief came to power in November 2002, succeeding Jiang Zemin as
the general secretary of the Communist Party. The following
year he became Chinese president, a position he retains until
Piercing the diffident persona is difficult. People
talk of his modest mien, but he is also highly
intelligent and well attuned to the slow, accretive process of
building power bases within Chinas vast bureaucracy.
Hus nature is ultra-conservative, his
watchword is caution perhaps unsurprising for a man who
came of age during the countrys disastrous Cultural
Revolution. The Financial Times once described Hu as a man
worryingly dependent on a small group of advisers, who reads
the Peoples Daily, the Communist partys political
mouthpiece, and little else.
Yet such superficial sketches skate over the
difficulties of running a nation of 1.3 billion people. Hu is
arguably the worlds second most powerful human being
after US president Barack Obama.
This is a remarkable reversal of fortunes for one
of the worlds historically great powers. Deng Xiaoping,
the man who single-handedly yanked China out of the mire the
country was in in the late 1970s, famously handpicked Hu as a
possible future Chinese president in the 1980s.
While Deng encouraged his impoverished country folk
to believe that getting rich was glorious,
Hus catchphrase, drummed into citizens at every level of
daily life, cautions the importance of creating a
harmonious society that benefits everyone.
Under Hus leadership life has become freer
for most Chinese citizens than at any point in the
countrys history, though true universal suffrage remains
a pipe dream. The economy has grown at upwards of 10% in every
year except 2008, driven for the most part by booming
Hu has shown a hard-line approach to liberalization
of the media and what is permissible on the internet. Most
recently the government tried to require all computers to be
installed with a web filter known as Green Dam Youth Escort.
For the moment, opposition to this has resulted in a
postponement about its implementation.
Hus tenure in office has coincided with
Chinas global economic ascendancy and the countrys
first true global showpiece, the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.
Even the embarrassment of the 2003 Sars virus provided Hu with
an opportunity early in his first term to act tough and firm up
his power base.
His second term expires in 2012, and he is likely
to be succeeded by his hand-picked successor Xi Jinping.
China under Hu has seen a nation enriched while
avoiding any major external conflicts. The coming years will be
harder. China needs its people to buy more, rather than relying
on rising exports. As the country gains in power and wealth in
an economically troubled world, remaining invisible will become
harder for Asias emerging superpower.