Xi's Predecessor Led Out of Party Congress

Chinese officials give no reason for removal of former president
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2022 1:40 PM CDT
Party Shows Xi's Predecessor to the Door
Former Chinese President Hu Jintao, front row second from right, talks to his predecessor as party leader, Xi Jinping, right, as he is removed from a meeting Saturday.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

A former president of China was removed from the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Saturday, appearing to resist as his successor, Xi Jinping, watched. Hu Jintao, 79, was sitting next to Xi during the closing ceremony of the Communist Party Congress, Reuters reports, when two stewards approached him. He appeared to not want to stand, and one steward repeatedly tried to pull him up. Hu seemed to address Xi before the man stepped between them, per NBC News, and tried again to get Hu to his feet. The party official sitting on the other side of Hu, Li Zhanshu, started to stand as Hu left but was pulled back down by another leader.

The exit of the frail and confused-looking Hu seemed to be the only unchoreographed part of the session, per the Guardian; international news media had just been permitted into the hall to film, and the moment was recorded. Social media commenters used a workaround to post about the incident, but Reuters found the comments section of almost all Weibo posts including Hu's name were taken down by Saturday evening. No official explanation of Hu's removal was offered. China's only other living former leader, Jiang Zemin, 96, has not attended the meeting.

Hu, who stepped down as party leader in 2012, has been praised by Communist Party media for freely giving up his power, James Palmer writes in an analysis in Foreign Policy. That's something Xi is not close to doing. The central committee will announce the party's top leaders on Sunday, with no indication that Xi won't remain general secretary and head of China’s armed forces. He would have had to approve Hu's removal, Palmer says, which could have been for a health reason, possibly even a positive COVID-19 test. Or Xi could have had reason to think Hu was planning to not support him in the final voting that turned out to be unanimous. (More Chinese Communist party stories.)

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