Live updates: China’s Xi Jinping unveils Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee leaders

Former Chinese President Hu Jintao leaves his seat alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping during the closing ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Oct. 22, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

The Communist Party’s five-year national congress is a carefully choreographed political event designed to showcase the party’s unity and legitimacy.

But yesterday’s closing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People presented a dramatic moment when former main leader Hu Jintao was unexpectedly withdrawn from the event.

Hu, 79, was seated in a prominent position at the front table of the stage, right next to his successor Xi Jinping, when he was approached by an official, according to images and video of the meeting.

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As he sat, Hu appeared to have a brief conversation with the male official, while Politburo Standing Committee member Li Zhanshu, who was sitting on the other side, had his hand on Hu’s back.

Hu then appeared to stand up with the help of the team member, who had encircled the former leader’s arm, as a second man approached. Hu spoke briefly with the two men and initially seemed reluctant to leave.

He was then escorted by the two men from his seat, with one holding his arm, as other party members seated behind the head table watched.

As he left, Hu was seen gesturing to Xi and saying something to the leader. He then patted Prime Minister Li Keqiang on the shoulder. Both Xi and Li seem to have agreed; it was unclear whether Xi spoke.

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State media breaks the silence: The circumstances surrounding his departure were not immediately clear, and CNN was censored on-air in China when reporting Hu’s departure.

The dramatic moment was not reported in state-run Chinese-language media or discussed on Chinese social media, where such conversation is highly restricted – but it has set off a storm of speculation abroad, with many analysts describing it as public humiliation and likely power play.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency finally broke its silence on Saturday night, writing on its English-language Twitter account that Hu “insisted on attending the closing session of the 20th National Party Congress despite the fact that it was taking a while to recover.” . recently.”
“When he was not feeling well during the session, his team, for his health, accompanied him to a room near the meeting place to rest. Now he is much better,” he wrote Xinhua.

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The comment was attributed to a specific reporter from Xinhua, a highly unusual move. Xinhua is the official government news agency, and news lines are typically carried by government departments, not independently provided.

Twitter is also banned in China. As of press time, Xinhua has not published the statement on its Chinese-language website or social media.

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