The Most Famous


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This page contains a list of the greatest Chinese Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 19,576 Politicians, 447 of which were born in China. This makes China the birth place of the 9th most number of Politicians behind Spain, and Turkey.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Chinese Politicians of all time. This list of famous Chinese Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Chinese Politicians.

Photo of Mao Zedong

1. Mao Zedong (1893 - 1976)

With an HPI of 85.42, Mao Zedong is the most famous Chinese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 172 different languages on wikipedia.

Mao Zedong (26 December 1893 – 9 September 1976) was a Chinese politician, Marxist theorist, military strategist, poet, and revolutionary who was the founder of the People's Republic of China (PRC). He led the country from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976, while also serving as the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party during that time. His theories, military strategies and policies are known as Maoism. Mao was the son of a prosperous peasant in Shaoshan, Hunan. He supported Chinese nationalism and had an anti-imperialist outlook early in his life, and was particularly influenced by the events of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 and May Fourth Movement of 1919. He later adopted Marxism–Leninism while working at Peking University as a librarian and became a founding member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), leading the Autumn Harvest Uprising in 1927. During the Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang (KMT) and the CCP, Mao helped to found the Chinese Red Army, led the Jiangxi Soviet's radical land reform policies, and ultimately became head of the CCP during the Long March. Although the CCP temporarily allied with the KMT under the Second United Front during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), China's civil war resumed after Japan's surrender, and Mao's forces defeated the Nationalist government, which withdrew to Taiwan in 1949. On 1 October 1949, Mao proclaimed the foundation of the PRC, a Marxist–Leninist single-party state controlled by the CCP. In the following years he solidified his control through the land reform campaign against landlords, the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries, the "Three-anti and Five-anti Campaigns", and through a truce in the Korean War, which altogether resulted in the deaths of several million Chinese. From 1953 to 1958, Mao played an important role in enforcing command economy in China, constructing the first Constitution of the PRC, launching an industrialisation program, and initiating military projects such as the "Two Bombs, One Satellite" project and Project 523. His foreign policies during this time were dominated by the Sino-Soviet split which drove a wedge between China and the Soviet Union. In 1955, Mao launched the Sufan movement, and in 1957 he launched the Anti-Rightist Campaign, in which at least 550,000 people, mostly intellectuals and dissidents, were persecuted. In 1958, he launched the Great Leap Forward that aimed to rapidly transform China's economy from agrarian to industrial, which led to the Great Chinese Famine and the deaths of 15–55 million people between 1958 and 1962. In 1963, Mao launched the Socialist Education Movement, and in 1966 he initiated the Cultural Revolution, a program to remove "counter-revolutionary" elements in Chinese society which lasted 10 years and was marked by violent class struggle, widespread destruction of cultural artifacts, and an unprecedented elevation of Mao's cult of personality. Tens of millions of people were persecuted during the Revolution, while the estimated number of deaths ranges from hundreds of thousands to millions. After years of ill health, Mao suffered a series of heart attacks in 1976 and died at the age of 82. During the Mao era, China's population grew from around 550 million to over 900 million while the government did not strictly enforce its family planning policy. During his leadership tenure, China was heavily involved with other Asian communist conflicts such as the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cambodian Civil War. Mao is considered one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. He has been credited with transforming China from a semi-colony to a leading world power by advancing literacy, women's rights, basic healthcare, primary education, and improving life expectancy. However, Mao's policies were also responsible for a vast number of deaths, with estimates ranging from 40 to 80 million victims due to starvation, persecution, prison labour, and mass executions, and his government has been described as totalitarian. He became an ideological figurehead and a prominent influence over the international communist movement, being endowed with remembrance, admiration and cult of personality both during and after his life.

Photo of Huang Xianfan

2. Huang Xianfan (1899 - 1982)

With an HPI of 85.39, Huang Xianfan is the 2nd most famous Chinese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 166 different languages.

Huang Xianfan (zhuang: Vangz Yenfanh; simplified Chinese: 黄现璠; traditional Chinese: 黄現璠; pinyin: Huáng Xiànfán; Wade–Giles: Huáng Hsiènfán) (November 13, 1899 – January 18, 1982) was a Zhuang Chinese historian, ethnologist and educator.He was the first college graduate of Zhuang ethnicity and trained at Peking National University under leading historians and linguists in the 1920s. Huang was the first writer of a general history of the Zhuang nationality, but also a major advocate of the theory that there was no slavery society in the history of the Zhuang, and there was no slave society as a stage of social development in Chinese history.The General History of the Zhuang is the first research book on the history of Zhuang nationality and The "Bagui School" he created is the first school of ethnic studies in China.Huang is considered one of the founders of modern Chinese ethnology.

Photo of Qin Shi Huang

3. Qin Shi Huang (-258 - -210)

With an HPI of 84.58, Qin Shi Huang is the 3rd most famous Chinese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 177 different languages.

Qin Shi Huang (Chinese: 秦始皇, ; February 259 – 12 July 210 BC) was the founder of the Qin dynasty and the first Emperor of China. Rather than maintain the title of "king" (wáng 王) borne by the previous Shang and Zhou rulers, he assumed the invented title of "emperor" (huángdì 皇帝), which would see continuous use by monarchs in China for the next two millennia. Born in Handan, the capital of Zhao, as Ying Zheng (嬴政) or Zhao Zheng (趙政), his parents were King Zhuangxiang of Qin and Lady Zhao. The wealthy merchant Lü Buwei assisted him in succeeding his father as the king of Qin, after which he became King Zheng of Qin. By 221 BC, he had conquered all the other warring states and unified all of China, and he ascended the throne as China's first emperor. During his reign, his generals greatly expanded the size of the Chinese state: campaigns south of Chu permanently added the Yue lands of Hunan and Guangdong to the Sinosphere, and campaigns in Inner Asia conquered the Ordos Loop from the nomadic Xiongnu, although the Xiongnu later rallied under Modu Chanyu. Qin Shi Huang also worked with his minister Li Si to enact major economic and political reforms aimed at the standardization of the diverse practices of the earlier Chinese states. He is traditionally said to have banned and burned many books and executed scholars. His public works projects included the incorporation of diverse state walls into a single Great Wall of China and a massive new national road system, as well as his city-sized mausoleum guarded by a life-sized Terracotta Army. He ruled until his death in 210 BC, during his fifth tour of eastern China.Qin Shi Huang has often been portrayed as a tyrant and strict Legalist—characterizations that stem partly from the scathing assessments made during the Han dynasty that succeeded the Qin. Since the mid-20th century, scholars have begun questioning this evaluation, inciting considerable discussion on the actual nature of his policies and reforms. According to the sinologist Michael Loewe "few would contest the view that the achievements of his reign have exercised a paramount influence on the whole of China's subsequent history, marking the start of an epoch that closed in 1911".

Photo of Sun Yat-sen

4. Sun Yat-sen (1866 - 1925)

With an HPI of 79.43, Sun Yat-sen is the 4th most famous Chinese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 122 different languages.

Sun Yat-sen (traditional Chinese: 孫中山; simplified Chinese: 孙中山; pinyin: Sūn Zhōngshān, , 12 November 1866 – 12 March 1925) was a Chinese revolutionary statesman, physician, and political philosopher who served as the first provisional president of the Republic of China and the first leader of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party of China). He is called the "Father of the Nation" in the present-day Republic of China (Taiwan) and the "Forerunner of the Revolution" in the People's Republic of China for his instrumental role in the overthrowing of the Qing dynasty during the 1911 Revolution. Sun is unique among 20th-century Chinese leaders for being widely revered by both the Communist Party in Mainland China and the Nationalist Party in Taiwan.Educated overseas, Sun is considered to be one of the greatest and most important leaders of modern China, but his political life was one of constant struggle and frequent exile. After the success of the revolution in 1911, he quickly resigned as president of the newly founded Republic of China and relinquished the position to Yuan Shikai. He soon went to exile in Japan for safety but returned to form and found a revolutionary government in Southern China, as a challenge to the warlords who controlled much of the nation. In 1923, he invited representatives of the Communist International to Canton (Guangzhou) to reorganize his party and formed a brittle alliance with the Chinese Communist Party. He did not live to see his party unify the country under his successor, Chiang Kai-shek, in the Northern Expedition. He died in Beijing of gallbladder cancer in 1925.Sun's chief legacy is his political philosophy known as the Three Principles of the People: Mínzú (民族主義; Mínzúzhǔyì) or nationalism (independence from foreign domination), Mínquán (民權主義; Mínquánzhǔyì) or "rights of the people" (also translated as "democracy"), and Mínshēng (民生主義; Mínshēngzhǔyì) or people's livelihood (sometimes translated as "communitarianism" or "welfarism").

Photo of Deng Xiaoping

5. Deng Xiaoping (1904 - 1997)

With an HPI of 79.00, Deng Xiaoping is the 5th most famous Chinese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 101 different languages.

Deng Xiaoping (22 August 1904 – 19 February 1997) was a Chinese revolutionary and statesman who served as the paramount leader of the People's Republic of China (PRC) from December 1978 to November 1989. After Chinese Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong's death in 1976, Deng rose to power and led China through its process of Reform and Opening Up and the development of China's socialist market economy. Deng developed a reputation as the "Architect of Modern China" and his ideological contributions to socialism with Chinese characteristics are described as Deng Xiaoping Theory. Born in Sichuan near the end of the Qing dynasty, Deng went to France in 1921 on a work-study program that placed students in factory jobs; seeing working conditions he became attracted to the theories of Vladimir Lenin, and in 1924 he joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In early 1926, Deng travelled to Moscow to study political science, becoming a commissar for the Red Army upon his return to China. Near the end of 1929, Deng led local Red Army uprisings in Guangxi. In 1931, he was demoted within because of his support for Mao, but was again promoted during the Zunyi Conference. Deng was an important figure throughout the Chinese Civil War (1927–1949), including during the Long March (1934–1935) and in fighting against the Japanese (1937–1945). He, Liu Bocheng and Chen Yi led the newly formed People's Liberation Army (PLA) into the former Kuomintang capital of Nanjing during the final stretch of the civil war. Following the proclamation of the People's Republic of China on 1 October 1949, Deng served in Tibet and southwestern China as the regional party chief, working to consolidate party control. In 1952, he returned to Beijing and held a central position in the State Council. As the party's Secretary-General under Chairman Mao Zedong, and Vice Premier under Premier Zhou Enlai during the 1950s, Deng presided over the Anti-Rightist Campaign spearheaded by Mao, and became instrumental in China's economic reconstruction following the Great Leap Forward (1958–1960). However, his right-leaning political and economic stances eventually caused him to fall out of favor with Mao, and he was the target of purges twice during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). Following Mao's death in September 1976, Deng outmaneuvered Mao's chosen successor Hua Guofeng, and became China's paramount leader during the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee in December 1978. Because of the institutional disorder and political turmoil from the later Mao-era, Deng and his allies launched the Boluan Fanzheng program. The program sought to restore order, rehabilitating veteran CCP leadership, as well as millions of people who were persecuted during the Cultural Revolution. From 1977 to early 1979, he resumed the National College Entrance Examination that had not taken place for ten years, and initiated the Reform and Opening-up program that introduced elements of market capitalism to the Chinese economy. This included designating special economic zones, such as Shenzhen. Still embroiled in the Sino-Soviet split that began during the 1960s, Deng's China fought a one-month war with Vietnam. On 1 January 1979, the PRC officially established diplomatic relations with the United States after years of prelude, and Deng became the first paramount leader of China to visit the US. In August 1980, Deng embarked on a series of political reforms, setting constitutional term limits for state officials and other systematic revisions, which were incorporated in the country's third constitution (1982). In the 1980s, Deng advocated for the one-child policy to deal with China's perceived overpopulation crisis, helped establish China's nine-year compulsory education, launched the 863 Program for science and technology, and downsized the PLA by one million. Deng also proposed the One Country, Two Systems principle for the governance of Hong Kong and Macau, as well as the future unification with Taiwan. During Deng's tenure, his protégés Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang were head of the party and the government, but both were later ousted from power. Deng stepped down from all his official positions in November 1989, in the wake of the protests in Tiananmen Square. The reforms carried out by Deng and his allies gradually led China away from a planned economy and Maoist ideologies, opened it up to foreign investments and technology, and introduced its vast labor force to the global market, thus turning China into one of the world's fastest-growing economies. Deng and his chosen successors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao contributed to China becoming the world's second-largest economy by nominal GDP in 2010. Despite never holding office as either the PRC's state representative or head of government nor as the head of CCP, Deng is generally viewed as the "core" of the CCP's second-generation leadership, a status enshrined within the party's constitution. Deng was named the Time Person of the Year for 1978 and 1985. He was criticized for ordering a military crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, yet was praised for his reaffirmation of the reform program in his Southern Tour of 1992 as well as the reversion of Hong Kong to Chinese control in 1997 and the return of Macau in 1999.

Photo of Xi Jinping

6. Xi Jinping (b. 1953)

With an HPI of 77.71, Xi Jinping is the 6th most famous Chinese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 139 different languages.

Xi Jinping (Chinese: 习近平; pinyin: Xí Jìnpíng, pronounced [ɕǐ tɕîn.pʰǐŋ]; born 15 June 1953) is a Chinese politician who has been the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), and thus the paramount leader of China, since 2012. Xi has also been the president of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since 2013. He belongs to the fifth generation of Chinese leadership. The son of Chinese Communist veteran Xi Zhongxun, Xi was exiled to rural Yanchuan County as a teenager following his father's purge during the Cultural Revolution. He lived in a yaodong in the village of Liangjiahe, Shaanxi province, where he joined the CCP after several failed attempts and worked as the local party secretary. After studying chemical engineering at Tsinghua University as a worker-peasant-soldier student, Xi rose through the ranks politically in China's coastal provinces. Xi was governor of Fujian from 1999 to 2002, before becoming governor and party secretary of neighboring Zhejiang from 2002 to 2007. Following the dismissal of the party secretary of Shanghai, Chen Liangyu, Xi was transferred to replace him for a brief period in 2007. He subsequently joined the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) of the CCP the same year and was the first-ranking secretary of the Central Secretariat in October 2007. 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. He officially received the title of leadership core from the CCP in 2016. Xi is the first CCP general secretary born after the establishment of the PRC. Since assuming power, Xi has introduced far-ranging measures to enforce party discipline and to impose internal unity. His anti-corruption campaign led to the downfall of prominent incumbent and retired CCP officials, including former PSC member Zhou Yongkang. He has also enacted or promoted a more aggressive foreign policy, particularly with regard to China's relations with the U.S., the nine-dash line in the South China Sea, and the Sino-Indian border dispute. He has sought to expand China's African and Eurasian influence through the Belt and Road Initiative. Xi has expanded support for state-owned enterprises (SOEs), advanced military-civil fusion, overseen targeted poverty alleviation programs, and has attempted to reform the property sector. He has also promoted "common prosperity," a series of policies designed with stated goal to increase equality, oversaw a broad crackdown and major slew of regulations against the tech and tutoring sectors in 2021. Xi met with Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou in 2015, the first time PRC and Republic of China leaders met, though relations deteriorated after Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidential elections in 2016. He responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in mainland China with a zero-COVID approach from January 2020 until December 2022, afterwards shifting towards a mitigation strategy. Xi also oversaw the passage of a national security law in Hong Kong, clamping down on political opposition in the city, especially pro-democracy activists. Often described as an authoritarian leader by political and academic observers, Xi's tenure has included an increase of censorship and mass surveillance, deterioration in human rights, including the internment of a million Uyghurs in Xinjiang, a cult of personality developing around Xi, and the removal of term limits for the presidency in 2018. Xi's political ideas and principles, known as Xi Jinping Thought, have been incorporated into the party and national constitutions. As the central figure of the fifth generation of leadership of the PRC, Xi has centralized institutional power by taking on multiple positions, including new CCP committees on national security, economic and social reforms, military restructuring and modernization, and the Internet. He and the CCP Central Committee passed a "historical resolution" in November 2021. In October 2022, Xi secured a third term as CCP General Secretary, and was reelected state president for a third term in March 2023.

Photo of Kublai Khan

7. Kublai Khan (1215 - 1294)

With an HPI of 77.71, Kublai Khan is the 7th most famous Chinese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 100 different languages.

Kublai Khan (23 September 1215 – 18 February 1294), also known by his temple name as the Emperor Shizu of Yuan and his regnal name Setsen Khan, was the founder and first emperor of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty of China. He proclaimed the dynastic name "Great Yuan" in 1271, and ruled Yuan China until his death in 1294. Kublai was the second son of Tolui by his chief wife Sorghaghtani Beki, and a grandson of Genghis Khan. He was almost 12 when Genghis Khan died in 1227. He had succeeded his older brother Möngke as Khagan in 1260, but had to defeat his younger brother Ariq Böke in the Toluid Civil War lasting until 1264. This episode marked the beginning of the fragmentation of the empire. Kublai's real power was limited to the Yuan Empire, even though as Khagan he still had influence in the Ilkhanate and, to a significantly lesser degree, in the Golden Horde.In 1271, Kublai established the Yuan dynasty and formally claimed orthodox succession from prior Chinese dynasties. The Yuan dynasty came to rule over most of present-day China, Mongolia, Korea, southern Siberia, and other adjacent areas. He also amassed influence in the Middle East and Europe as khagan. By 1279, the Yuan conquest of the Song dynasty was completed and Kublai became the first non-Han emperor to rule all of China proper. The imperial portrait of Kublai was part of an album of the portraits of Yuan emperors and empresses, now in the collection of the National Palace Museum in Taipei. White, the color of the imperial costume of Kublai, was the imperial color of the Yuan dynasty based on the Chinese philosophical concept of the Five Elements.

Photo of Empress Dowager Cixi

8. Empress Dowager Cixi (1835 - 1908)

With an HPI of 77.11, Empress Dowager Cixi is the 8th most famous Chinese Politician.  Her biography has been translated into 88 different languages.

Empress Dowager Cixi [tsʰɹ̩̌.ɕì] (29 November 1835 – 15 November 1908), was a Manchu noblewoman of the Yehe Nara clan who effectively controlled the Chinese government in the late Qing dynasty as empress dowager and regent for almost 50 years, from 1861 until her death in 1908. Selected as a concubine of the Xianfeng Emperor in her adolescence, she gave birth to a son, Zaichun, in 1856. After the Xianfeng Emperor's death in 1861, his five-year-old son became the Tongzhi Emperor, and Cixi assumed the role of co-empress dowager alongside Xianfeng's widow, Empress Dowager Ci'an. Cixi ousted a group of regents appointed by the late emperor and assumed the regency along with Ci'an. Cixi then consolidated control over the dynasty when she installed her nephew as the Guangxu Emperor at the death of the Tongzhi Emperor in 1875. Ci'an continued as co-regent until her death in 1881. Cixi supervised the Tongzhi Restoration, a series of moderate reforms that helped the regime survive until 1911. Although Cixi refused to adopt Western models of government, she supported technological and military reforms and the Self-Strengthening Movement. She supported the principles of the Hundred Days' Reforms of 1898, but feared that sudden implementation, without bureaucratic support, would be disruptive and that the Japanese and other foreign powers would take advantage of any weakness. She placed the Guangxu Emperor, who, she thought, had tried to assassinate her, under virtual house arrest for supporting radical reformers, publicly executing the main reformers. After the Boxer Rebellion led to invasion by Allied armies, Cixi initially backed the Boxer groups and declared war on the invaders. The ensuing defeat was a stunning humiliation. When Cixi returned to Beijing from Xi'an, where she had taken the emperor, she became friendly to foreigners in the capital and began to implement fiscal and institutional reforms aimed to turn China into a constitutional monarchy. The deaths of both Cixi and Guangxu in November 1908 left the court in the hands of Manchu conservatives, the child Puyi on the throne, and a restless, deeply divided society. Historians both in China and abroad have debated Cixi's legacy. Historians have argued that she was a ruthless despot whose reactionary policies – although successful in managing to prolong the ailing Qing dynasty – led to its humiliation and eventual downfall in the Wuchang Uprising. However, some revisionists have suggested that Nationalist and Communist revolutionaries scapegoated her for deep-rooted problems which were beyond salvaging, and laud her maintenance of political order.

Photo of Wu Zetian

9. Wu Zetian (624 - 705)

With an HPI of 76.62, Wu Zetian is the 9th most famous Chinese Politician.  Her biography has been translated into 64 different languages.

Wu Zetian (17 February 624 – 16 December 705), personal name Wu Zhao, was Empress of China from 660 to 705, ruling first through others and then (from 690) in her own right. She ruled first as empress consort, through her husband Emperor Gaozong and then as an empress dowager, through her sons Emperors Zhongzong and Ruizong, from 660 to 690, not unprecedented in Chinese history. She subsequently founded and ruled as female emperor of the Wu Zhou dynasty of China from 690 to 705. She was the only female sovereign in the history of China widely regarded as legitimate. Under her 45-year reign, China grew larger, becoming one of the great powers of the world, its culture and economy were revitalized, and corruption in the court was reduced. She was eventually removed from power during a coup and died a few months later. In early life, Wu was the concubine of Emperor Taizong. After his death, she married his ninth son and successor, Emperor Gaozong, officially becoming Gaozong's huanghou (皇后), or empress consort, the highest-ranking of the wives, in 655. Even before becoming empress consort, Wu had considerable political power. Once announced as the empress consort, she began to control the court, and after Gaozong's debilitating stroke in 660, she became administrator of the court, a position equal to the emperor's, until 683. On Emperor Gaozong's death in 683, rather than entering into retirement (as was customary for royal widows), or not interfering in the government (according to the emperor's law, when he reaches the age of 17, he must rule by himself); Wu broke with tradition and took acquisition of complete power, refusing to allow any of her sons to rule. She took the throne in 690 by officially changing the name of the country from Tang to Zhou, changing the name of the royal family from Li to Wu, and holding a formal ceremony to crown herself as emperor.As a young woman entering Gaozong's harem, Wu competed with Empress Wang and Consort Xiao for the emperor's affection, and eventually expelled and killed them. After her wedding to Gaozong in 655, her rise to power was swift. A strong, charismatic, vengeful, ambitious, well-educated woman who enjoyed her husband's absolute affection, Wu was the most powerful and influential woman at court during a period when the Tang dynasty was at the peak of its glory. Wu was more decisive and proactive than her husband, and historians consider her to have been the real power behind the throne during Gaozong's reign for more than 20 years until his death. She was partially in control of power from November 660, and totally from January 665. History records that she "was at the helm of the country for long years, her power is no different from that of the emperor." [citation needed] Wu presided over the court with the emperor, and even held court independently when the emperor was unwell. She was given charge of the Heirloom Seal of the Realm, implying that her perusal and consent were necessary before any document or order received legal validity. Gaozong sought her views on all matters before making major decisions. Wu was also granted certain honors and privileges not enjoyed by any Chinese empresses before or since. After Gaozong's death, Wu as empress dowager and regent held power completely and solely, used absolute power more forcefully and violently than before, and suppressed her overt and covert opponents. Seven years later, Wu seized the throne and began the Zhou dynasty, becoming the only empress regnant in Chinese history. Empress Wu is considered one of the greatest emperors in Chinese history due to her strong leadership and effective governance, which made China one of the world's most powerful nations.[citation needed] The importance to history of her tenure includes the major expansion of the Chinese empire, extending it far beyond its previous territorial limits, deep into Central Asia, and engaging in a series of wars on the Korean Peninsula, first allying with Silla against Goguryeo, and then against Silla over the occupation of former Goguryeo territory. Within China, besides the more direct consequences of her struggle to gain and maintain power, Wu's leadership resulted in important effects regarding social class in Chinese society and in relation to state support for Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, education and literature. Wu developed a network of spies to build a strong intelligence system in the court and throughout the empire, delivering daily reports on current affairs of the empire or opposition to the central state. She also played a key role in reforming the imperial examination system and encouraging capable officials to work in governance to maintain a peaceful and well-governed state. Effectively, these reforms improved her nation's bureaucracy by ensuring that competence, rather than family connections, became a key feature of the civil service. Wu also had an important impact upon the statuary of the Longmen Grottoes and the "Wordless Stele" at the Qianling Mausoleum, as well as the construction of some major buildings and bronze castings that no longer survive. Besides her career as a political leader, Wu also had an active family life. She was a mother of four sons, three of whom also carried the title of emperor, although one held that title only as a posthumous honor. One of her grandsons became the controversial Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, whose reign marked the turning point of the Tang dynasty into sharp decline.

Photo of Hu Jintao

10. Hu Jintao (b. 1942)

With an HPI of 76.23, Hu Jintao is the 10th most famous Chinese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 107 different languages.

Hu Jintao (born 21 December 1942) is a Chinese retired politician who served as the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 2002 to 2012, the president of China from 2003 to 2013, and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) from 2004 to 2012. He was a member of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee, China's de facto top decision-making body, from 1992 to 2012. Hu was the fifth paramount leader of China from 2002 to 2012.Hu rose to power through the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), notably as Party Committee secretary for Guizhou province and the Tibet Autonomous Region, where his harsh repression of dissent gained him attention from the highest levels. He moved up to first secretary of the CCP Central Secretariat and vice president under CCP general secretary Jiang Zemin. Hu was the first leader of the Communist Party from a generation younger than those who participated in the civil war and the founding of the republic. Influential sponsors from the older generation promoted his rapid rise, including Song Ping, Hu Yaobang, Deng Xiaoping, and Jiang Zemin.During his term in office, Hu reintroduced state control in some sectors of the economy that were relaxed by the previous administration, and was conservative with political reforms. Along with his colleague Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, Hu presided over nearly a decade of consistent economic growth and development that cemented China as a major world power. He sought to improve socio-economic equality domestically through the Scientific Outlook on Development, which aimed to build a "Harmonious Socialist Society" that was prosperous and free of social conflict. Under his leadership, the authorities also cracked down on social disturbances, ethnic minority protests, and dissident figures, which also led to many controversial events such as the unrest in Tibet and the passing of the Anti-Secession Law. In foreign policy, Hu advocated for "China's peaceful development", pursuing soft power in international relations and a corporate approach to diplomacy. Throughout Hu's tenure, China's influence in Africa, Latin America, and other developing regions increased. Hu possessed a modest and reserved leadership style. His tenure was characterized by collective leadership and consensus-based rule. These traits made Hu a rather enigmatic figure in the public eye. His administration was known for its focus more on technocratic competence than persona. At the end of his tenure after ten years in office, Hu won praise for retiring voluntarily from all positions. He was succeeded by Xi Jinping. Following the death of his predecessor Jiang Zemin, Hu is the only living former paramount leader of the People's Republic of China.


Pantheon has 491 people classified as Chinese politicians born between 2900 BC and 2000. Of these 491, 78 (15.89%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Chinese politicians include Xi Jinping, Hu Jintao, and Fuxi. The most famous deceased Chinese politicians include Mao Zedong, Huang Xianfan, and Qin Shi Huang. As of April 2024, 41 new Chinese politicians have been added to Pantheon including Wang Yi, Li Qiang, and Helü of Wu.

Living Chinese Politicians

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Deceased Chinese Politicians

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Newly Added Chinese Politicians (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.