The Communist Party’s five-yearly National Congress is a carefully choreographed political event designed to showcase party unity and legitimacy.

But yesterday’s closing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People was marked by a dramatic moment, when former top leader Hu Jintao was unexpectedly expelled from the event.

Hu, 79, was seated in a prominent position at the head table on stage, right next to his successor Xi Jinping, when he was approached by a staff member, according to footage and video from the meeting. .

As he sat, Hu appeared to speak briefly with the male staff member, while Politburo Standing Committee member Li Zhanshu, who sat on the other side, had his hand on Hu’s back.

Hu then appeared to get up with the help of the staff member, who had linked his arm around the former chief’s, as a second man approached. Hu spoke briefly with the two men and at first seemed reluctant to leave.

He was then escorted by the two men from his seat, one holding his arm, as the other members of the group seated behind the main table looked on.

On the way out, Hu was seen gesturing towards Xi and saying something to the leader. He then patted Premier Li Keqiang on the shoulder. Xi and Li seem to have nodded; it was unclear whether Xi was speaking.

State media comes out of silence: The circumstances surrounding his departure were not immediately clear, and CNN was censored on air in China when it reported on Hu’s exit.

The dramatic moment was not reported on Chinese-language state media or discussed on Chinese social media, where such conversation is highly restricted – but it sparked a firestorm of speculation overseas, many analysts said. describing it as a public humiliation and likely power play.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency finally broke its silence on Saturday evening, writing on its English-language Twitter account that Hu “insisted on attending the closing session of the 20th National Party Congress, despite the fact that he took time to recover.” recently.”
“When he did not feel well during the session, his staff, for his health, accompanied him to a room next to the meeting venue to rest. Now he is much better,” Xinhua wrote.

The comment was attributed to a specific Xinhua reporter, a highly unusual move. Xinhua is the government’s official news agency, and news lines are usually carried by ministries, not independent sources.

Twitter is also banned in China. So far, Xinhua has not posted the statement on its website or social media in Chinese.

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