Hu Jintao's Legacy: Critics Lament Lost Years

Lisa Holland, Foreign Affairs Correspondent

As Hu Jintao steps onto the stage of the Great Hall of the People his party will seek to portray him as having presided over a "golden decade" for China.

When the Communist Party made him the leader 10 years ago, China's economy was only a little bit bigger than Italy's.

It is now the world's second largest economy and may take over as economic superpower of the world during the political life of China's next president.

China has a seat at the top table of decision-making - the power of veto on the UN Security Council. 

China is seen by America as the only power in the world which can threaten it militarily.

China has held its first manned space flight and its first Olympics and there are plans to try to put a man on the moon.

China boasts the largest number of internet and mobile phone users worldwide and is the strongest global magnet for foreign investment.

China is undoubtedly the rising power of the world. 

Yet as Hu Jintao takes a bow there are some critics who privately say even with such achievements his period in office was the "lost decade".

Perhaps because culturally, socially and politically China has not moved forward an inch.

Surely China can never become a true global superpower when its people have no say in who runs their lives.

As one blogger told me: "In China you can get rich and get famous, you can do anything you want as long as you don't try to subvert the leaders."

Within 24 hours of Barack Obama being re-elected for another four years in office, China is changing its political guard.

Barack Obama still likes to paint America as the place where you can live the dream. If you want it you can get it in the US.

In Chinese Communism the ideology is lost and confused. But you CAN live the dream.

Just remember not to criticise the Communist Party or ask for political choice as you drive round in the Mercedes.

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