Saturday, October 22, 2022

Former Chinese Leader Hu Jintao, 79, Was Manhandled Out Of The Closing Ceremony Of The Communist Party Congress

THIS is the dramatic moment a former Chinese leader was manhandled out of the closing ceremony of the Communist Party Congress. Hu Jintao, 79, appeared reluctant to be escorted from the front row of proceedings at Beijing's Great Hall of the People - where he was sitting next to President Xi Jinping. Footage showed a steward trying to take Hu - who was China's leader from 2003 to 2013 - by the arm before being shaken off. The steward then attempted to lift the frail former president up with both hands from under the armpits. After a tense exchange of about a minute, in which Hu spoke briefly with Xi and Premier Li Keqiang, he was led out of the hall. Xi, who is expected to be reinstated for a third term on Sunday, was filmed holding papers down on the desk as Hu tried to grab them. Hu patted Li's shoulder as he left, as most of his colleagues stared firmly ahead during the bizarre exchange. His sudden exit was left unexplained - and China's censors appeared to quickly scrub any recent references to him from the internet. But former diplomat Roger Garside said the manoeuvre was likely a "show of power" from Xi and branded the incident "starkly humiliating". "I am sure it is a demonstration of power and authority by Xi Jinping," he told The Sun Online. "The exclusion of Premier Li Keqiang and Vice Premier Wang Yang from the 20th Central Committee is a clear sign that Xi has won the struggle to choose the new leadership which will be revealed tomorrow." 

China's week-long Congress has occurred mostly behind closed doors - but Hu's sudden department happened shortly after journalists were allowed in to cover the closing ceremony. Authorities offered no explanation for Hu's exit, which came just before the 2,300 delegates at the Congress voted unanimously to endorse Xi's "core" leadership position. Kerry Brown, director of the Lau China Institute at King's College London, said the move was likely down to health reasons. He told The Sun Online: "Hu was a man with a strong sense of service when in office, and apparently before this incident people seemed concerned about him before the attendant came. "I imagine the main issue was they didn't want him potentially fainting next to Xi or while Xi spoke. He has been in poor health for a number of years. "Still, a most inauspicious moment for this to happen." Neil Thomas, a senior China analyst at the Eurasia Group consultancy, said: "We still don't know what caused Hu's actions, such as whether it was opposition to Xi's power or simply an unfortunately timed senior moment. "So without more information it's hard to draw solid conclusions about how this incident relates to Chinese politics." Search results for "Hu Jintao" on the Twitter-like Weibo platform appeared to be heavily censored Saturday - with the most recent result dated Friday and posts limited to those of official accounts. On Sunday, Xi is widely expected to secure a precedent-breaking third term as the party's general secretary and chairman of the party's central military commission. This will allow Xi to sail through to a third term as China's president, due to be announced during the annual legislative sessions in March. Since taking over from Hu a decade ago, Xi has become China's most authoritarian leader since Mao Zedong. Xi has crushed opposition to his rule inside the party, with many of his rivals jailed on corruption charges, and he has shown no tolerance for any form of public dissent. Source

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