FP Analysis: Why former Chinese president Hu Jintao was ‘led out’ of Party Congress? Xi’s purge complete!

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New Delhi: Former Chinese President Hu Jintao, the immediate predecessor of Xi Jinping, was on Saturday unexpectedly escorted out of the closing ceremony of  the 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress and that too, as it seemed, without an explanation.

As per the videos shared on social media, the 79-year-old former president and CPC general secretary was lifted up by a staff member and led away by officials even as he seemed to show discomfort at the turn of events.

On his way out, Hu was seen to pause and appeared to say something to Xi and then patted Premier Li Keqiang on the shoulder. Both Xi and Li appeared to nod. It was not clear what Xi said in reply.

Hu had appeared slightly unsteady last Sunday when he was assisted onto the same stage for the opening ceremony of the Congress.

Xi, who was on Sunday re-elected as the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China for a record third five-year term, is widely seen to have cemented power by eliminating rivals and dampening the lingering influence of party elders.

This was evident when the newly announced 205-member Central Committee did not include Li Keqiang and fellow Standing Committee member Wang Yang, who are both considered Hu’s proteges.

This means neither will they retain their seats in the Standing Committee, the party’s top-decision making body, though both are 67, one year short of the unofficial retirement age.

Xi, however, was included in the list of new Central Committee members on Saturday by a once-in-a-five-year Congress despite crossing the official retirement age of 68 and completing 10-year tenure.

After the incident set off a firestorm of speculation overseas, the Chinese state media said he was “not feeling well” when he was removed.

“Xinhuanet reporter Liu Jiawen has learned that Hu Jintao insisted on attending the closing session… despite the fact that he has been taking time to recuperate recently,” Xinhua said on Twitter.

“When he 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,” it added.

However, according to CNN report, due to the opacity of Chinese elite politics, the party is unlikely to offer a public explanation on Hu’s sudden exit.

The dramatic moment has not been reported anywhere in Chinese media, or discussed on Chinese social media, where such conversation is highly-restricted, the report added.

Meanwhile, Xi on Sunday announced Li Qiang, a former Shanghai party secretary who is no relation to Li Keqiang, was the No. 2 member and Zhao Leji, a member of the previous committee, was promoted to No 3.

The No 2 committee member since the 1990s has become premier while the No 3 heads the legislature. Those posts are to be assigned when the legislature meets next year.

The lineup appeared to reflect what some commentators called “Maximum Xi,” valuing loyalty over ability. Some new Standing Committee members lack national-level government experience that typically is seen as a requirement for the post.

The promotion of Li Qiang was especially unusual because it puts him in line to be premier despite not having experience as a Cabinet minister or vice premier. However, he is regarded as close to Xi after the two worked together early in their careers in Zhejiang province in the early 2000s.

Li Keqiang is the top economic official but was sidelined over the past decade by Xi, who put himself in charge of policymaking bodies and wants a bigger state role in business and technology development.

With inputs from agencies

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FP Analysis: Why former Chinese president Hu Jintao was ‘led out’ of Party Congress? Xi’s purge complete!
FP Analysis: Why former Chinese president Hu Jintao was ‘led out’ of Party Congress? Xi’s purge complete!
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