“China, Hu’s your daddy?,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 21 September 2004, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/000863.html.
While researching my Asia by Barnett article for Simon World, I came across this half-year-old post by Tom Barnett
Good news finally on the Chinese leadership front. When Jiang Zemin gave up his control over the military yesterday, the 3rd generation of leadership truly left the stage. Now, Hu Jintao has more control at an earlier age than any leader since Mao, which suggests that the 4th generation’s run of leadership will be a vigorous one.
But don’t see danger for the U.S. necessarily rising in this pathway, because remember that it’s Hu who is pushing the theory of the “peacefully rising China.” Indeed, most experts expect Hu to now be able to chart a more flexible course with Taiwan and Hong Kong since Jiang won’t be around any more to trump him with calls of being a soft nationalist. You want a sense of who Hu is? Remember his response on SARS. China did the usual cover-up until Hu stepped forward and forced a level of transparency unseen before in Chinese history. Doesn’t make him a perfect guy, but it means his instincts are good, such as his focus on the rural poor in China.
Overall, this is a very good sign for the future of the Core.
One explanation would be: China wants closer ties to Japan, and establishing a “hard line” now gives Hu the flexibility to do it later. Hu may figure that, just as only Nixon could go to China, only an anti-Japanese Populist can cement long-term security between Nihon and China.