Hu is regarded as a consummate politician who is the leader of China's "fourth generation" of leaders. He has shown that he can work effectively with others, both those above and below his rank, and with those of differing points of view. Spending a long time rising in the ranks of the party, he has demonstrated patience and moderation. As a technocrat, it has been speculated that he might be a political reformist, but that theory has yet to be tested. Hu has diligently adhered to the party line, including supporting the "three represents" theory of Jiang Zemin. The theory, written into the party constitution at the sixteenth Party Congress held in November 2002, is seen as a reorientation of the party away from its sole mission to serve the proletariat. The theory of the "three represents" emphasizes the importance of the middle class, stating that the party will represent not only workers and peasants, but the "advanced productive forces, advanced culture and the broad masses of the people."
In December 2002 Hu stated that China's constitution was of supreme importance and that no individual or organization could operate above it. This was seen as an indication that he relegated the Communist Party's status to a position where it will be governed by the law, not operating above the law.