Deng Xiaoping at age 16, studying in France (1921)
Hu in November 2011
Deng's name is spelled Teng Hi Hien on this employment card from the Hutchinson shoe factory in Châlette-sur-Loing, France, where he worked on two occasions as seen from the dates, eight months in 1922 and again in 1923 when he was fired after one month, with the bottom annotation reading "refused to work, do not take him back"
Hu's birthplace, Jiangyan, Jiangsu
Deng Xiaoping in NRA uniform, 1937
Hu Jintao in 1960
Deng with Liu Bocheng (right)
Hu Jintao with Leaders of the BRICS countries, from left, Singh, Medvedev, Rousseff and Zuma in April 2011
Deng Xiaoping with He Long (middle) and Zhu De (right) (1949)
Hu with George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush in Beijing, 10 August 2008
Deng Xiaoping (left) met with the 14th Dalai Lama (right) in 1954
Hu talks with U.S. President Barack Obama at the 2009 Pittsburgh G-20 Summit
Deng Xiaoping (left) with future president Li Xiannian (center) and Premier Zhou Enlai in 1963
Deng Xiaoping (centre) with U.S. president Gerald Ford (left), 1975
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Deng Xiaoping (left) and his wife Zhuo Lin (right) are briefed by Johnson Space Center director Christopher C. Kraft (extreme right)
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Lizhi Park, Shenzhen, one of China's first special economic zones and is regarded as China's Silicon Valley
A model reconstruction of Deng Xiaoping's 1984 meeting with UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Shenzhen
A patrol boat in use during Deng Xiaoping's southern tour of 1992
Deng Xiaoping's ashes lie in state in Beijing whose banner reads "Memorial Service of Comrade Deng Xiaoping", February 1997
Statue of Deng Xiaoping in Shenzhen
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Shenzhen, Guangdong
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Qingdao, Shandong
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Dujiangyan, Sichuan
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Lijiang, Yunnan

Deng Xiaoping (22 August 1904 – 19 February 1997), also known by his courtesy name Xixian (希贤), was a Chinese revolutionary leader, military commander and statesman who served as the paramount leader of the People's Republic of China (PRC) from December 1978 to 1992.

- Deng Xiaoping

Hu was the paramount leader of China from 2004 to 2012.

- Hu Jintao

The term gained prominence during the era of Deng Xiaoping (1978–1989), when he was able to wield political power without necessarily holding any official or formally significant party or government positions at any given time (head of state, head of government or CCP General Secretary).

- Paramount leader

The term has been used less frequently to describe Deng's successors, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, who have all formally held the offices of General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (party leader), President of the People's Republic of China (head of state) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (commander-in-chief).

- Paramount leader

Influential sponsors from the older generation promoted his rapid rise, including Song Ping, Hu Yaobang, Deng Xiaoping, and Jiang Zemin.

- Hu Jintao

He continued to be widely regarded as the "paramount leader" of the country, believed to have backroom control despite no official position apart from being chairman of the Chinese Contract Bridge Association, and appointed Hu Jintao as Jiang's successor on 14th Party Congress in 1992.

- Deng Xiaoping

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Chinese Communist Party

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Founding and sole ruling party of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Founding and sole ruling party of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Site of the first CCP Congress, in the former Shanghai French Concession
Flag of the HistoryChinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army
Mao Zedong declared the establishment of the People's Republic of China on 1 October 1949.
Chinese communists celebrate Joseph Stalin's birthday, 1949.
A temporary monument displayed in Changsha, Hunan Province, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the CCP's founding
A monument dedicated to Karl Marx (left) and Friedrich Engels (right) in Shanghai
A billboard advertising Xi Jinping Thought in Shenzhen, Guangdong
The 18th National Congress, convened in November 2012
Front cover of the Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party
Xi Jinping (second from left) with Enrique Peña Nieto (second from right), the former President of Mexico and a leading member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party
Badge given to party members

During the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping directed the CCP away from Maoist orthodoxy and towards a policy of economic liberalization.

Because of these posts, the party leader is seen as the country's paramount leader.

Hu Jintao, Jiang Zemin's successor as general secretary, took office in 2002.

Jiang in December 2002

Jiang Zemin

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Chinese retired politician who served as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2002, as Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2004, and as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003.

Chinese retired politician who served as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2002, as Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2004, and as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003.

Jiang in December 2002
Graduation photo of Jiang, taken in 1947.
Jiang in 1962
Jiang Zemin with U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1999.
Jiang Zemin with his wife and George W. Bush with his wife in Crawford, Texas, 25 October 2002.
Jiang Zemin's inscription engraved on a stone in his hometown, Yangzhou

As the involvement of the "Eight Elders" in Chinese politics steadily declined, Jiang consolidated his hold on power to become the "paramount leader" in the country during the 1990s.

At the age of 95 years, 350 days, Jiang is the longest-living paramount leader in the history of the PRC, surpassing Deng Xiaoping on 14 February 2019.

In November 2002, Jiang stepped down from the powerful Politburo Standing Committee and as General Secretary at the age of 76 to make way for a "fourth generation" of leadership headed by Hu Jintao, beginning a transition of power that would last several years.

General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party

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The general secretary of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party is the paramount leader of China.

The two most recent general secretaries, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, were first elevated to the position of First Secretary of the Secretariat in the same process used to determine the membership and roles of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee.

Since its revival in 1982, the post of general secretary has been the highest office in the CCP, though it did not become the most powerful post until Deng Xiaoping's retirement in 1990.

Hu Yaobang in 1986

Hu Yaobang

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High-ranking official of the People's Republic of China.

High-ranking official of the People's Republic of China.

Hu Yaobang in 1986
Hu Yaobang at Yan'an in the 1930s
Hu Yaobang and his wife Li Zhao
Hu Yaobang, Zhu De, and Liao Chengzhi at the National Youth Congress in 1953 (left to right)
(from left) Zhao Ziyang, Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng at Hu Yaobang's memorial service in the Great Hall of the People, on 22 April 1989
Hu Yaobang's Former Residence.
Hu's Statue in his hometown Liuyang

Hu joined the CCP in the 1930s, and rose to prominence as a comrade of Deng Xiaoping.

Hu Yaobang's rise to power was engineered by Deng Xiaoping, and Hu rose to the highest levels of the Party after Deng displaced Hua Guofeng as China's "paramount leader".

Hu Jintao announced plans to rehabilitate Hu Yaobang in August 2005, with events organised for 20 November, the 90th anniversary of Hu's birth.