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Xi Jinping, the presumed heir to the current General Secretary and President Hu Jintao, has been away from the public eye for ten days now, producing various rumors about his whereabouts. It is an urgent matter for China because Beijing is expected to hold its 18th party convention for transfer of power in a month.
Xi canceled meetings with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on September 5 and another meeting with the Danish Prime Minister on September 10, without notice. Yet the Chinese government has not explained why this happened and it is an unprecedented matter for China, which puts a lot of stress on the protocol.
Xi attended a speech held at the Central Party School on September 1, and that was the last time Xi was seen in public. Hong Kong’s Apple Daily reported that Xi might have health problems or might even be resigned because of pressure from the other party members.
Meanwhile, some foreign media, including the New York Times, reported that health issues may in fact be the case, but that they are not believed to be critical or in any position to cause problems for the transfer of power to Xi. However, the Chinese government has not said anything so far regarding this matter, making people more curious about what is happening in China.
Foreign media has suggested several scenarios of what could have happened to Xi. They range from recovering from an injury while playing soccer or swimming, to involvement in a car accident at the hand of supporters of Bo Xilai, Xi’s competitor, or having suffered a heart attack. Among these possibilities, many have emphasized the first one.
On September 13, Hong Kong’s Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy (ICHRD) said in a press release that Xi had surgery last month because of liver cancer at the People’s Liberation Army 301 Hospital in Beijing, and is currently recovering but otherwise has no problem with his health. However, there is no way of confirming this because the Chinese government is continuing its silence about Xi.
Xi Jinping, born on June 1, 1953, is a high-ranking politician of the People’s Republic of China. He studied at Tsinghua University, one of the most prestigious schools in China, and started his early career serving mostly in the Fujian province. He currently serves as the country’s Vice President. He is supported by both right wings and left wings and considered as China’s future leader.
Image Courtesy of Antonio Villaraigosa