09/11/2012, 00.00
CHINA
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Xi Jinping absent for 10 days: illness, purge or attack

by Wang Zhicheng
The future president "in pectore" did not show up to meetings with foreign dignitaries and party meeting. Rumors of leadership tensions and even a possible attempt on his life by Bo Xilai supporters. Internet searchers blocked.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The conspicuous 10 day absence of Vice-President Xi Jinping has unleashed a cloud of rumors and speculation, while on the internet any search under his name is blocked.

Xi Jinping did not show up to a meeting yesterday with the Danish Prime Minister, who is visiting the country. Yet the press office had long before announced his presence. Four days ago, Xi did not participate in a meeting of the leaders of the Party nor a planned meeting seven days ago with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Meetings with the Prime Minister of Singapore and Russian diplomats have also been canceled.

The 1st September is the last time that Xi Jinping was seen in public, at the Central Party School, where he gave a speech. Since then, even with all these pre-arranged meetings, there has been no official information on his whereabouts.

Xi Jinping has been widely designated as the future president and general secretary of the Party, successor to Hu Jintao at the next Communist Party Congress to be held in October. The passing on of power and reshuffling of the Central Committee of the Politburo - the real power in China - have been shaken by the scandal involving Bo Xilai and his wife, as well as the tensions between the "cracks" of leadership, so that the date for the Congress has not yet been set.

The uncertainty and infighting lead many to speculate on the disappearance of Xi from the public eye for so long.

Some people think that Xi being one of the Party "princelings," the wealthy children of former party greats, has run into serious problems with Hu Jintao, and his Communist Youth group. Others assume that he is sick, perhaps suffering from back pain - of which he suffers - after a football game or a swim.

But there are those who even hypothesize that Xi Jinping has become the victim of an attack by militants loyal to Bo Xilai, who is also one of the "princelings", excluded from the race for power and forced to resign as party chief in Chongqing.

Boxun website - not always reliable - claims that Xi was admitted to the Military Hospital 301 in Beijing with a back wound. He was apparently attacked on the orders of Bo's allies and the national security chief Zhou Yongkang: Xi's car was crushed between two other cars. But after a few hours the article was removed.

Hong Lei, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said that cancellations of meetings are a "normal adjustment" and that he had "no information" to provide on Xi.

Hong's comments are unconvincing likely to fuel speculation.  Adding to rumors yesterday's censorship of Sinaweibo search engine which blocks any results for 'Xi Jinping" motivated by" laws and regulations "of China.

Journalists and academics have criticized the style of secrecy that the Chinese leadership is surrounded itself with for decades.

 

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