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China's Hu tops Forbes 'most powerful' list

By the CNN Wire Staff
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'Forbes' names China's Hu most powerful
  • The magazine uses four criteria to define power
  • Hu presides over one-fifth of the world's population
  • Osama bin Laden also makes the list
  • Hu Jintao
  • Barack Obama

(CNN) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao has topped the list of Forbes magazine's list of the world's most powerful people, besting U.S. President Barack Obama who slipped to the second spot.

The magazine said it used four criteria to define power -- whether the person has influence over a lot of people; whether they have significant wealth compared to their peers; whether they are powerful in more than one sphere and whether they actively wield power.

In that respect, said the magazine, the editors picked Hu as the most powerful man in the world. The annual list was released Wednesday evening.

As the leader of China, Hu presides over 1.3 billion people -- one-fifth of the world's population, and over the world's largest army. Under him, China has become the world's second-largest economy. And, says Forbes, "Unlike Western counterparts, Hu can divert rivers, build cities, jail dissidents and censor Internet without meddling from pesky bureaucrats, courts."

Julian Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks, makes the list (No. 68), as does Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (No. 40). In addition, several accused criminals do too, including al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (No. 57).

The top 10 most powerful people, according to the magazine:

1. Hu Jintao, president of China

2. Barack Obama, president of the United States.

3. Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, the king of Saudi Arabia

4. Vladimir Putin, the prime minister of Russia

5. Pope Benedict XVI

6. Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany

7. David Cameron, prime minister of the United Kingdom

8. Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve

9. Sonia Gandhi, president of the Indian National Congress

10. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.