The former leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was ushered from his seat beside General Secretary Xi Jinping during the final session of the 20th National Congress Saturday.
As WSJ reports, midway through the otherwise carefully-choreographed closing session, Hu Jintao, 79, Xi Jinping's immediate predecessor, was helped out of his chair next to Mr. Xi and inexplicably led out of the hall.
Footage shot by foreign media in the hall, which wasn't included in the official China Central Television broadcast, showed Mr. Hu seemingly reluctant or unable to stand up when an aide tried to lift him off his chair.
In the commotion, Mr. Xi leaned toward Mr. Hu and appeared to speak with him.
Mr. Hu was ushered off the center dais, briefly looking back at Mr. Xi and patting outgoing Premier Li Keqiang on the shoulder as he departed.
It wasn't clear why Mr. Hu left or where he went. The incident has gone unmentioned in Chinese state media coverage of the event.
By Saturday evening, however, the comments section of almost all Weibo posts containing Hu's name were no longer visible, according to a Reuters review.
On Twitter, Xinhua news agency suggested Mr. Hu's issue was health related.
In English, indicating the report was aimed at an international audience, the government-run agency said Mr. Hu "was not feeling well during the session" and left to rest in a room next to the meeting venue. "Now, he is much better," the account said.
When he was not feeling well during the session, his staff, for his health, accompanied him to a room next to the meeting venue for a rest. Now, he is much better.— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) October 22, 2022
Reuters also adds that Hu had appeared slightly unsteady last Sunday when he was assisted onto the same stage for the opening ceremony of the congress.
As some China-watchers have noted, if Hu were really "purged" as some are speculating "i highly doubt that CCTV would show him like this in the report."
further on this, the sequence of leadership appearance matters greatly. in this cctv report, which they had plenty of time to arrange after the ceremony, the shots of leaders starts with xi, then hu, then the rest of current and retired standing committee members. https://t.co/X17npjTQgx— Bill Bishop (@niubi) October 22, 2022
Still... does this look like the face of a man who 'wants' to leave for health reasons?
Meanwhile, Xi has set the stage to extend his rule into a second decade, and on Saturday the Communist Party announced new names for some top spots as some of his rivals head toward retirement.
Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, warned China’s human rights situation would deteriorate in a statement issued on Oct. 12.
“Another five years of Xi’s leadership is bad news for the cause of democracy and freedom, and worse news for the Chinese people,” Abramowitz said.
“If past is prologue, a third term for Xi will result in more human rights abuses within China and more aggressive suppression of free speech globally, even as his domestic and foreign policies backfire and public outrage intensifies.”
As a reminder, Hu advocated maintaining good relations with the U.S., and was also an opponent of a military solution to the Taiwan issue. As SouthFront suggests, the former CPC Chairman’s escorting out of the hall is a clear demonstration of the renewed anti-Western foreign policy of Beijing, which, apparently, is ready for all measures, defending its sovereignty and the role of a superpower in the modern world.
Of course, the question remains, is it now in the Deep State's favor to make it seem like there is political discord at the top in China - remember, an unstable China is a 'dangerous' China, that will require much bigger State and Defense Department budgets to battle not to mention serve as a generous source of revenue for the Lockheeds and Raytheons of the world for years to come.