Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao tops a list of "10 leaders to watch" this year released Tuesday by Eurasia Group, a global political risk research and consulting firm. The firm selects lists of political and economic risk factors and leaders to watch at the beginning of each year.
"Having guided China through the worst of the economic crisis" last year, Wen "now faces the equally difficult task of shifting Chinese policy from stimulating the economy to containing inflation and preventing asset bubbles," as well as challenges in U.S.-China relations and foreign exchange policy, it said.
U.S. President Barack Obama came second. "Obama will continue to keep a domestic-oriented focus, with healthcare, financial regulation, and cap-and-trade being his three big initiatives at the start of 2010," the firm speculated. "He enters 2010 with diminished approval ratings, high unemployment, a massive deficit, and poor prospects for the Democratic Party in mid-term elections in November... Increasing tension with China, a complicated withdrawal from Iraq, the challenge of securing Afghanistan, and renewed concern for domestic safety will keep Obama engaged on security and foreign policy issues."
Ichiro Ozawa, the president of the Democratic Party of Japan, ranked third. "Ozawa is being investigated for alleged political financing irregularities," Eurasia Group said. "If he survives the scandal that threatens to engulf him, Ichiro Ozawa has the opportunity to maneuver the ruling Democratic Party of Japan to victory in upper-house elections in July, giving it firm control over the government."
New Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama did not make the list.
Others on the list include the leader of the British Conservative Party, David Cameron, who is tipped as the next prime minister; Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian president who is in the final year of his presidency; and Vladimir Putin, the Russian strongman who is currently prime minister in a diarchy with President Dmitry Medvedev.