I was reading this article on Yahoo today called "The Most Powerful People on Earth 2010." Guess who was ranked number one by Forbes? Hu Jintao, the President of the People's Republic of China.
Here's a quote from the article:
"Paramount political leader of more people than anyone else on the planet; exercises near dictatorial control over 1.3 billion people, one-fifth of world's population. Unlike Western counterparts, Hu can divert rivers, build cities, jail dissidents and censor Internet without meddling from pesky bureaucrats, courts. Recently surpassed Japan to become the world's second-largest economy both in absolute and purchasing power terms. Credible estimates have China poised to overtake U.S. as world's largest economy in 25 years — although, crucially, not on a per-capita basis. Creditor nation oversees world's largest reserves at $2.65 trillion — $1.5 trillion of which is in U.S. dollar holdings. Refuses to kowtow to U.S. pressure to change its exchange-rate regime. Heads world's largest army (in size). His handpicked successor, Xi Jinping, set to assume the presidency in 2012."
The people were ranked in terms of amount of influence over people, financial resources, power in multiple spheres, and active use of power. After Hu, Obama comes in number two, followed by the King of Saudi Arabia.
I definitely agree that Hu Jintao is an immensely powerful figure and has basically unchecked control and influence over more than one billion people. However, maybe the rankings would be different if we also factored in influence in international relations and "soft power," the ability to obtain what one wants through attraction and diplomacy. In my opinion, Obama probably has more clout in dealing with international relations. Additionally, he definitely has a lot of "soft power," as many people around the world admire him and believe him to be the "leader of the free world." However, Obama obviously does not have as much direct control over people's lives, and his power is checked not only by Congress and the Supreme Court but also by state governments.
What do you think? Does Hu Jintao have the most power in the world?
This image is from The People's Daily Online.