Former Chinese President Hu Jintao was unexpectedly led out of Saturday’s closing ceremony of the in a dramatic moment that disrupted the highly choreographed event. State media said late Saturday that Hu was “not feeling well” when he was escorted out, but was doing “much better” after getting some rest.
The frail-looking 79-year-old seemed reluctant to leave the front row of proceedings at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, where he was sitting next to President.
A steward attempted to take a sitting Hu by the arm before being shaken off. The steward then tried to lift Hu up with both hands from under the armpits.
After an exchange of about a minute, in which Hu spoke briefly with Xi and Premier Li Keqiang, he was led out of the hall.
A seated Xi was filmed holding papers down on the desk as Hu tried to grab them.
Hu patted Li’s shoulder as he left, as most of his colleagues stared firmly ahead.
Later, state news agency Xinhua said on Twitter: “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.
The weeklong congress took place mostly behind closed doors, but Hu’s departure occurred shortly after journalists were allowed in to cover the closing ceremony.
Hu’s exit came just before the 2,300 delegates at the congress voted unanimously to endorse Xi’s “core” leadership position.
“Power politics on full display,” Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group consultancy, said on Twitter with a video showing Hu’s departure
Ex-Chinese President Hu Jintao was escorted out of the Communist Party congress closing ceremony on Saturday in a dramatic incident that disrupted the highly scripted performance. State media reported late Saturday that Hu was “not feeling well” when he was hauled out of the building, but was “much better” after resting.
The frail-appearing 79-year-old appeared reluctant to leave the front row of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where he was seated next to President Xi Jinping.
A steward attempted to grasp a seated Hu by the arm, but was subsequently shook off. The steward then attempted to pull Hu by his armpits with both hands.
Hu was escorted out of the hall following a minute-long conversation with Xi and Premier Li Keqiang.
A sitting Xi was captured on camera placing papers on the desk as Hu attempted to seize them.
Hu patted Li’s shoulder as he departed, while the majority of his coworkers focused intently ahead.
Later, state news agency Xinhua reported on Twitter: “Xinhuanet writer Liu Jiawen has learnt that Hu Jintao insisted on attending the closing session… despite the fact that he has recently been taking time to heal.
“When he became ill during the session, his staff brought him to a room adjacent to the meeting location for his health. Now he is doing much better,” Xinhua reported.
The majority of the week-long congress took place behind closed doors, but Hu left shortly after journalists were permitted to cover the closing ceremony.
Hu’s departure occurred shortly prior to the 2,300 congress delegates voting unanimously to accept Xi’s “core” leadership position.
“Power politics on full display,” Ian Bremmer, president of the consulting firm Eurasia Group, tweeted with a video of Hu’s departure.
Neil Thomas, a senior China analyst at Eurasia Group, speculated that the incident may have been the result of antagonism to Xi or a poorly timed senior moment.
“Whether intentional or due to illness, the result is the same. Total disgrace for the last generation of pre-Xi leaders “analyst Alex White tweeted.
On China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo, search results for “Hu Jintao” looked to be extensively filtered on Saturday afternoon, with the most current result dating from Friday and posts limited to those from official accounts.
Xi will almost certainly be formally proclaimed as the party’s general secretary for another five years on Sunday.
This will allow him to secure a third term as president of China, which will be declared in March during the government’s annual parliamentary sessions.
Since succeeding Hu a decade ago, Xi has become the most autocratic Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.
Many of Xi’s adversaries have been imprisoned on corruption charges for opposing his leadership within the party, and he has demonstrated zero tolerance for any type of public protest.