John L. Thornton China Center

Hu Chunhua 胡春华

One of China's Top Future Leaders to Watch

Hu Chunhua 

  • Born 1963
  • Inner Mongolia party secretary (2009–present)
  • Chairman of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region People’s Congress (2010–present)
  • Full member of the Central Committee of the CCP (2007–present)

Personal and Professional Background

Hu Chunhua was born in 1963 in Wufeng County, Hubei Province. Hu joined the CCP in 1983. He received a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Literature from Peking University (1979–1983) and graduated with a master’s degree (through part-time studies) in World Economics from the Central Party School (1996–99). Hu went to Tibet after graduating from Peking University and worked as a clerk at the Organization Department in the CCP Committee of Tibet (1983–85), an official at the newspaper Tibet Youth Daily (1985), and an official at the Tibet Hotel (1985–87). Hu advanced his political career largely through the Chinese Communist Youth League. He served as deputy secretary (1987– 1992), and secretary (1992–95) of the CCYL in Tibet. He also worked as deputy head of Linzhi Prefecture, Tibet (1992) and deputy party secretary and head of Shannan Prefecture, Tibet (1995–97). He served as a member of the Secretariat of the CCYL National Committee and vice chairman of China’s Youth Federation (1997–2001). In July 2007, Hu returned to Tibet where he served as secretary general of the CCP Committee of Tibet (2001–03), and deputy party secretary and executive vice governor of Tibet (2003–06). He then served as the first secretary of the Secretariat of the CCYL Central Committee (2006–08). Hu served as acting governor and deputy party secretary of Hebei Province (2008–09) and then governor of Hebei Province (2009).

Family and Patron-Client Ties

Hu Chunhua established his patron-mentor relationship with Hu Jintao in Tibet when the latter served as party secretary there (1988–1992). Hu Chunhua has been widely regarded as “a carbon copy of Hu Jintao.”[1] Both come from humble family backgrounds, both were student leaders in their college years, both advanced their political careers primarily through the CCYL, both worked in arduous work environments such as Tibet, both served as provincial party secretaries at a relatively young age, and both have low-profile personalities. Hu Chunhua’s parents were farmers in a poor village and he has six siblings. Hu got married in Tibet and the couple have one daughter.

Political Prospects and Policy Preferences

If the Chinese top leadership decides to select a leader of the sixth generation to the PSC in order to extend the continuity of leadership beyond the fifth generation, Hu Chunhua would be a prime candidate, and could possibly succeed Li Changchun to become China’s new “propaganda tsar.” Based on his personal and professional experiences, Hu Chunhua will likely take a populist approach and choose social justice and economic equality as his hot-button policy issues, which may include poverty alleviation, social welfare, and the allocation of more financial and human resources to less-developed regions.


[1] For more discussion about Hu Chunhua’s patron-client ties with Hu Jintao, see Ren Huayi 任华一, The Sixth Generation: The CCP’s Last Generation of Successors (第六代:中共末代接班群; New York: Mirror Books, 2010); and Ke Wei 柯畏, The Rising Stars of the CCP’s Sixth Generation (中共第六代明星传; Hong Kong: New Culture Press, 2010).

Editor's Note: The profile above was prepared by the China Center's Cheng Li and originally appeared in the China Leadership Monitor.