lørdag 29. oktober 2022

What happened to China’s former leader Hu Jintao?

It is a moment that for many observers has come to define strongman leader Xi Jinping’s tightening grip on China: his visibly frail predecessor, Hu Jintao, being escorted out of a key Communist Party meeting during a five-yearly leadership reshuffle – apparently at Xi’s behest. Images of two men ushering the 79-year-old from his seat and toward the exit were beamed across the world as the party’s National Congress came to a close Saturday, leading to days of speculation over whether Hu was the victim of a deliberately public power play.

This week, those rumors have only grown – despite a claim by Chinese state media on Twitter that Hu left due to ill-health – and the intrigue is likely to grow further still with the release of footage showing the 90 seconds leading up to his sudden removal. The footage, released by Singapore broadcaster CNA on Tuesday, shows a series of high-level exchanges between senior party leaders, in which Hu is repeatedly prevented from looking at official documents in front of him.

It shows Li Zhanshu, the party’s outgoing number-three official, who is sitting next to Hu at the front table on stage, take the documents from Hu’s hand and place them under a red folder. When Hu then reaches for the documents, Li pulls them away.