Hu in November 2011
Hu's birthplace, Jiangyan, Jiangsu
Hu Jintao in 1960
Hu Jintao with Leaders of the BRICS countries, from left, Singh, Medvedev, Rousseff and Zuma in April 2011
Hu with George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush in Beijing, 10 August 2008
Hu talks with U.S. President Barack Obama at the 2009 Pittsburgh G-20 Summit

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

- Hu Jintao

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
Hu in November 2011

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Chinese Communist Party

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

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.

Deng Xiaoping at age 16, studying in France (1921)

Deng Xiaoping

Deng Xiaoping at age 16, studying in France (1921)
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"
Deng Xiaoping in NRA uniform, 1937
Deng with Liu Bocheng (right)
Deng Xiaoping with He Long (middle) and Zhu De (right) (1949)
Deng Xiaoping (left) met with the 14th Dalai Lama (right) in 1954
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.

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.

Jiang in December 2002

Jiang Zemin

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.

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

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.

Xi Jinping

Chinese politician who has been serving as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) since 2012, and President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since 2013.

Chinese politician who has been serving as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) since 2012, and President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since 2013.

Xi Jinping greeting U.S. President George W. Bush in August 2008.
Xi Jinping with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on 28 September 2010.
Portrait of Xi in Beijing, September 2015
Holographic portraits of Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping in a shop in China
Xi giving a speech at the U.S. Department of State in 2012, with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then Vice-President Joe Biden in the background. Seated in the front row is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
BRICS leaders Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, Dilma Rousseff, Xi Jinping and Jacob Zuma at the G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, 15 November 2014
Xi with the first lady during the Moscow Victory Day Parade on 9 May 2015
Xi with Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, 23 January 2016
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in China, 8 November 2017
Xi in an official visit to Warsaw, where he and Poland's President Andrzej Duda signed a declaration on strategic partnership
Xi, who was on a four-day state visit to the UK, addressed both Houses of Parliament at Westminster, 21 October 2015
World leaders assemble for 'family photo' at G20 summit in Hamburg
Countries that signed cooperation documents related to the Belt and Road Initiative
According to the Qiushi, the Chinese Dream is about Chinese prosperity, collective effort, socialism, and national glory.
A billboard promoting Xi Jinping Thought in Shenzhen
The Governance of China in different languages presented at Shanghai Library
Hong Kong protesters throw eggs at Xi Jinping's portrait on National Day
Xi Jinping met with then-Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou in November 2015 in their capacity as the leader of mainland China and Taiwan respectively.
Xi Jinping, Peng Liyuan and U.S. President Barack Obama in the Lincoln Bedroom
Xi with Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, 23 January 2016

Xi has been the paramount leader of China, the most prominent political leader in the People's Republic of China, since 2012.

In 2008, he was designated as Hu Jintao's presumed successor as paramount leader; to that end, Xi was appointed Vice President of the PRC and Vice Chairman of the CMC.

President of the People's Republic of China

Head of state of the People's Republic of China.

Head of state of the People's Republic of China.

Mao Zedong
Liu Shaoqi
Dong Biwu
Song Qingling
Li Xiannian President (18 June 1983 – 8 April 1988)
Yang Shangkun
Jiang Zemin President
Hu Jintao
Xi Jinping
Zhu De
Ye Jianying

However, as a matter of convention, the presidency is held simultaneously by the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, who also serves as the chairman of the Central Military Commission, thus is often the paramount leader of China.

The current president is Xi Jinping, who took office in March 2013, replacing Hu Jintao.

Hu Yaobang in 1986

Hu Yaobang

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 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.