Hu Jintao’s legacy: A strong but strained China

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Hu Jintao's legacy: A strong but strained ChinaFILE - In this June 29, 2012 file photo, Chinese President Hu Jintao inspects People's Liberation Army soldiers at a camp in Hong Kong. As Hu steps down as head of China’s Communist Party after 10 years in power, he’s hearing something unusual for a Chinese leader: sharp criticism. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)(Credit: AP)

BEIJING (AP) — As Hu Jintao steps down as head of China’s Communist Party after 10 years in power, he’s hearing something unusual for a Chinese leader: sharp criticism.

Commentators are portraying Hu’s reign as a missed opportunity to tackle problems from pollution and a yawning rich-poor gulf to stiffly authoritarian politics.

China is much different than it was when Hu took over in 2002. It’s grown to become the world’s second-largest economy and per capita income has quintupled.

China’s politics, however, remain a world apart. Hu’s critics say he and the rest of China’s collective leadership have been too timid to change a system that is simmering with conflicts.

Some of the criticisms are designed to influence Xi Jinping, who begins taking over from Hu at a party congress opening Thursday.

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