China’s ex-leader Hu Jintao ‘not feeling well’ when he was escorted out of CPC congress: State media, Latest World News - The New Paper

China’s ex-leader Hu Jintao ‘not feeling well’ when he was escorted out of CPC congress: State media

This article is more than 12 months old

BEIJING - Chinese state news agency Xinhua has provided an explanation for former Chinese leader Hu Jintao’s unexpected departure from the closing ceremony of the Communist Party of China’s congress on Saturday.

Xinhua wrote in a tweet late on Saturday night that Mr Hu was “not feeling well during the session”.

“His staff, for his health, accompanied him to a room next to the meeting venue for a rest. Now, he is much better,” said Xinhua, adding that Mr Hu had insisted on attending the ceremony despite his poor health.

Mr Hu had been unexpectedly escorted off the stage at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing during the closing ceremony, soon after local and foreign journalists were led into the auditorium.

The 79-year-old former top Chinese leader appeared reluctant to leave and had exchanged words with Mr Xi and other top officials seated beside him, before he was led out by two men.

A clip of the awkward moment, posted to Twitter by The Straits Times, went viral with more than nine million views so far.

It spawned a heated debate among China watchers around the world over whether this was a very public purge of Mr Hu, who belongs to a different political faction from Mr Xi.

By Saturday evening, the comments section of almost all Weibo posts containing Mr Hu’s name were no longer visible.

The debate underscores how Chinese elite politics have become opaque under Mr Xi, who has clamped down on leaks. Tidbits like this offer rare insights into happenings within the party.

Mr Hu had attended the party congress as part of the presidium standing committee, the body that oversees the twice-a-decade congress. The 46-member committee comprises current leaders, as well as party leaders and retired senior officials.

Also part of the committee are former leader Jiang Zemin, 96, and former premiers Zhu Rongji, 93, and Wen Jiabao, 80. But both Mr Jiang and Mr Zhu, who are believed to be in poor health, did not attend the congress.