Hu Jintao's Topping of Forbes Most Powerful People List Shows Power Shifts East

Michael Santo's picture

On Thursday, Forbes announced its 2010 list of the World's Most Powerful People. At the top was People's Republic of China president Hu Jintao. His selection at the top of the list, shows a continued shift toward the East.

The top 10 list, out of the 68 total Forbes 2010 World's Most Powerful People is as follows:

  1. Hu Jintao, President, People's Republic of China, 67
  2. Barack Obama, President, United States of America, 49
  3. Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, King, Saudi Arabia, 86
  4. Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister, Russia, 58
  5. Pope Benedict XVI, Pope, Roman Catholic Church, 83
  6. Angela Merkel, Chancellor, Germany, 56
  7. David Cameron, Prime Minister, United Kingdom, 44
  8. Ben Bernanke, Chairman, Federal Reserve, 56
  9. Sonia Gandhi, President, Indian National Congress, 63
  10. Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 55

It's interesting that you have to go all the way up to No. 10, Bill Gates, formerly of Microsoft, to get to a person who is not affiliated with a governmental body, including the Vatican, by the way. Also of note is that Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, snuck onto the list in last place, at No. 68. He has been under attack, and reportedly, in hiding, due to the site's leaks of both Iraq and Afghanistan war-related classified documents.

Meanwhile, the choice of Hu Jintao over U.S. president Barack Obama becomes clear when you look at Forbes methodology for making their selections for the 2010 list of the World's Most Powerful People.

First, Forbes looked at the number of people influenced by a person. That would include, for heads-of-state we looked at population (and the huge population of China makes Hu Jintao's influence also huge, as does India's population for No. 9 Sonia Gandhi); for CEOs Forbes used employee population, for media figures they used their audience "size," and for religious figures the size of their congregations.

Next, Forbes looked at how much influence these folks have with regards to financial resources. This would include the GDP of a country, once again helping HU Jintao, Barack Obama, and Sonia Gandh in their rankings. This would also be influenced by net worth (e.g. Bill Gates) and also by Forbes own ranking on their Global 2000 for CEOs.

Bonus points were awarded for wielding power in multiple spheres, such as Silvio Berlusconi (No. 14), who is both the prime minister of Italy, and also a billionaire media mogul and owner of AC Milan.

Finally, active wielding of power was a necessity. Some people may be rich but don't actively work with their companies, such as Sam Walton's descendents, as noted by Forbes.

The entire 68 member Forbes 2010 World's Most Powerful People list is full of interesting picks. Take a look at the full list; you will probably agree with some, and disagree with many.

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