BEIJING — President Hu Jintao won a second five-year term as China’s Communist Party chief today, heading a new leadership lineup that features potential successors yet could invite a divisive battle to succeed him.
Hu’s ability to manage the new, disparate coalition will determine how united the party is in dealing with tensions over a yawning gap between rich and poor at home and managing China’s rising clout abroad so as not to anger the U.S. and other world powers.
If Hu is successful, he will be freer to boost spending on health, education and other services long-neglected in the headlong drive for economic growth. Otherwise, with his own retirement likely in five years, he could become a lame duck.
“Hu Jintao is a brilliant politician,” said Cheng Li, a watcher of Chinese politics at Washington’s Brookings Institution. But managing the new leadership “is a serious test.”