Birthplace: Jixi, Anhui Province
Hu became general secretary of the Chinese Communist party in 2002, replacing Jiang Zemin.
Hu joined the Communist Party in 1964, while an engineering student at the prestigious Qinghua University in Beijing. He graduated in 1965 with a degree in hydraulic engineering and took a teaching position at the university. During the Cultural Revolution, he spent a year as a manual laborer in Gansu province. From 1968 to 1980 he developed leadership skills while drawing on his engineering background in several posts with provincial industrial and technical commissions in Gansu. Hu also established close ties with Song Ping, a party elder who would help propel Hu to the top echelon of the party.
In 1982 Hu became an alternate member to the 12th CCP Central Committee and was elected secretary of the Gansu Provincial Committee of the Chinese Communist Youth League. He was transferred to Beijing and ascended to the top post in the CCYL by late 1984. He left Beijing once again, this time to head the Guizhou Province Provincial Committee. He became a full member of the 13th CCP Central Committee in 1987. He was then dispatched to Tibet in late 1988 to assume the role of secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Party. During his 18–month stint in Tibet, the government suppressed pro-independence protests and martial law was imposed.
He returned to Beijing, where he maintained his role as head of the party in Tibet, but mostly organized on behalf of the CCP. In fact, he was an influential leader in planning for 1992's 14th Communist Party Congress. His skills earned him further advancement in the party to such positions as president of the Party School of the CCP Central Committee, standing member of the CCP Central Committee Polituburo, and vice chairman of the PRC Central Military Commission. He was elected vice president of China in 1998, and became president in March 2003.