Table: Inside Track


A hard-line ally of Li Peng, Luo is in charge of the "Strike Hard" anti-crime campaign. The 66-year-old Shandong native studied engineering in East Germany, where he lived from 1954-62. Luo was made a State Councillor in 1993 and was appointed to the Politburo in 1997.


Li, 67, worked as a carpenter before studying architecture at night school. He eventually became mayor of the coastal city of Tianjin. Now a member of the Politburo Standing Committee he may succeed Li Peng as the chairman of the National People's Congress.


The 62-year-old graduate of the Beijing Engineering Institute is a key Jiang Zemin ally; detractors call him a sycophant. He runs the Communist Party's Organization Dept., which is responsible for personnel matters. Jiang failed three times to make him a full member of the Politburo.


The 59-year-old Vice-Premier has the most impressive track record of his generation, thanks to his work in agricultural reform. He also oversees the cleanup of the battered financial sector. Still, critics say his eagerness to please makes him afraid to take tough decisions.


Currently China's Vice-President, the 59-year-old Hu graduated from Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University with a degree in hydraulic engineering. Spotted early as a highflier, he became the youngest-ever member of the Communist Party's Central Committee when he was 39. Hu presided over a ruthless crackdown in Tibet in 1988. He has run the Party School in Beijing since 1993 and has been vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission since 1999.

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