In many ways, he's surrounded by Jiang Zemin's people who will tremendously restrain his power. There were previously a lot of people who wanted to block him from the premiership -- that failed. But now even in the state council, certainly in the standing committee, he's quite alone.
What does it say about the enduring influence of Jiang?
The backlash against Jiang Zemin will be overwhelming. Yes, Jiang's camp wins many seats in the Politburo Standing Committee, but in the future they may pay a huge price for this "victory." The public resentment will be very strong. These leaders are still selected by old-fashioned, behind the scenes deal-making and retired leaders' influence, not really through an intra-party multiple-candidate election. That's a big opportunity missed. That will undermine their legitimacy and credibility.
Why and how is Jiang still able to wield such influence?
Because of the need to protect his interests and his family interests. To a certain extent his protégés also want to have him to help them, in a way. Jiang Zemin is strong largely because his protégés are in important positions. People like Xi Jinping, Zhang Dejiang and Wang Qishan, they're already well-positioned.
Why has Hu failed to be the type of leader who could win out against Jiang's people in the PSC?
It's still too early to give a well-grounded answer due to a lack of reliable information about what happened inside Zhongnanhai (Communist Party headquarters in Beijing).
There are several possible reasons: One is, Hu wants to make a contrast between himself and Jiang Zemin. Jiang stayed in power for two more years after the transition at the 16th Party Congress. But Hu wants to immediately give up that position. So it is an institutional improvement. Secondly, his volunteering to give up that position makes Jiang's activity to promote his protégés in the past few months very problematic.
The balance in the Politburo Standing Committee is broken, but the balance in the Politburo and the Central Military Commission -- between the two camps -- largely stays intact. There are many of Hu's people in the central committee. Consequently, this may create structural tensions between these very important leadership bodies.