(AsiaNews/Agencies) - The absence of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping from
various public events continues to raise questions in China and abroad. Since his
last public appearance on 1 September, he has cancelled a number of high-level
meetings including one with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. According to
some, he is nursing an ailment, possibly a back injury suffered while swimming.
Meanwhile, the wall of silence by Chinese media and government officials
At a regular
press brief with foreign media, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not
answer questions about Xi's conditions.
whether Xi was alive, spokesman Hong answered, "I hope you can ask a
However, he did
not elaborate on the sudden and unexpected absence of China's presumptive
One source close
to the Beijing leadership said, "Xi injured his back when he went for his
daily swim." Another said the same. But both spoke on condition of
blogging site Sina Weibo, used by
hundreds of millions of Chinese, blocked searches for Xi's name, as is common
with top leaders, but users as usual found ways to skirt the restrictions,
referring to Xi as "the crown prince". Hundreds of
users posted messages about him, mostly speculation.
silence have the hallmark of the Communist regime since it was established. Chinese
leaders live in the Zhongnanhai compound, a forbidding and inaccessible area of
Beijing, which they almost never leave.
speech or appointment is vetted by censors, affected government departments and
then the media, all of which are under party control.
Xi's most recent
public appearance was at a ceremony at the Communist Party's Central Party
School in Beijing on 1 September. Since then, he has cancelled four meetings
with foreign officials without an explanation.
believe his absence is connected to the upcoming 18th party congress
that should mark the rise of the fifth generation of leaders.
Succession and power struggles within the central committee of the
Politburo, the real centre of power in China, have already been shaken by the
scandal involving Bo Xilai and his wife, as well as tensions between the party's
many factions, so much so that the date of party congress has not yet been decided.