Hu Jintao: The bad, the ugly and the good of China’s late leader

There are all kinds of books about former Chinese President Hu Jintao.

His name has entered the world of fiction, but a new version of the classic Turgenev play “Our Town” has revealed Hu’s darker side.

As well as being a source of entertainment, one-time Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was there to stage a fundraising dinner for President Jintao.

While under house arrest, Mr Mugabe hosted a lavish dinner which played on a sense of romance from the past, while also making reference to the chief of staff’s crisis situation in Tibet.

The official Chinese news agency quoted “seven diners” at the $1,500-a-head feast as saying the dinner discussion had revolved around “Huber’s life, his personality and achievements over six decades of service, taking into account Hu Jintao’s administration and characteristics.”

Mr Hu was likely to be moved to tears by the stories told, but did not show it.

Hu Jintao: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is published by China in Progress Press, a Beijing company that publishes non-fiction.

Part of his life story is told in Jonathan Fenby’s 2011 biography.

It explains why he’s holding back the full details of his capture from Chinese authorities, and how he narrowly escaped with his life in China’s most secret prisons.

Mr Hu’s treatment in the ‘handover’ of power in 2004 was an emotional point.

Former president Jiang Zemin does not allow lengthy interviews, but this fact has been revealed by an aide.

Meanwhile the Chinese leader was widely criticised over his handling of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, just days before he stepped down from the Communist Party.

Hu’s critics accused him of being slow to respond to rescue efforts and are convinced that he helped to fuel panic about the danger of the quake, raising suspicions that he would use the campaign as an opportunity to purge his rivals.

A popular Chinese joke imagines the kind of superpower China might become if it follows the wishes of its people and pushes the boundaries too far.

When its people have fought hard and shared in the gains, they can feel lazy and want more.

So, when they feel like this, they send the president back to the grass roots to lead them.

Hu’s successor, Xi Jinping, has taken on an extra military role, prompting speculation that he has been angered by the “busying up” of the president, and that he will move to curb his freedom of movement.

While much of the literary work about Hu has been produced in an overtly patriotic mood, author Zhang Jikai’s memoir, The Soul of a Lion, differs from all others.

It’s heavily critical of Hu’s “tougher line” on Tibet, and its loss of autonomy, and shows him to be a divisive figure, not a dashing reformer.

But Tian Yanjun, Professor of World Religions at Tsinghua University in Beijing, believes that publishing the book was a sure move because it reveals the former leader as flawed, but a benign one.

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