Jiang resigned as Chairman of the Deng Xiaoping appointed three party General Secretaries, all designed to be successors, and was instrumental in the ousting of two of them, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang. His third and final selection, Jiang Zemin, won Deng's continued, although ambiguous, backing and was the only General Secretary in Communist Chinese history to voluntarily leave his post when his term ended.
Jiang resigned as Chairman of the Central Military Commission in September 2004, his last official post. Following Jiang's stepping-down, Hu had officially taken on the three institutions in the People's Republic of China where power lie, the party, the state, as well as the military, thus informally, had become the paramount leader.
Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao inherited a China wrought with internal social, political and environmental problems. One of the biggest challenges Hu faced was the large wealth disparity between the Chinese rich and poor, for which discontent and anger mounted to a degree which wreaked havoc on the Communist Party's rule. Furthermore, the cronyism and corruption plaguing China's civil service, military, educational, judicial and medical systems sought to destroy the country bit by bit. In the beginning of 2006, however, Hu launched the "8 Honours and 8 Shames" movement in a bid to promote a more selfless and moral outlook amongst the population . At the cronyism and corruption plaguing China's civil service, military, educational, judicial and medical systems sought to destroy the country bit by bit. In the beginning of 2006, however, Hu launched the "8 Honours and 8 Shames" movement in a bid to promote a more selfless and moral outlook amongst the population . At the 17th CCP National Congress, Hu was re-elected as General Secretary of the Central Committee and Chairman of the CCP Central Military Commission on 22 October 2007. At the 11th National People's Congress, Hu was re-elected as President on 15 March 2008. He was also re-elected as Chairman of the PRC Central Military Commission.
Newsweek named Hu the second most powerful person in the world, referring to him as "the man behind the wheel of the world's most supercharged economy." Forbes also named him the second most powerful person in the world. Hu was named the 2010 World's Most Powerful Person by Forbes Magazine. Hu was listed four times (2008, 2007, 2005 and 2004) on the Time 100 annual list of most influential people.
Throughout Hu's tenure, China's influence in Africa, Latin America, and other developing regions increased. He also sought to increase China's relationship with Japan, which he visited in 2008. He also downgraded relations with Russia because of unfulfilled deals.