Still no sight of Xi ; Health rumours abound as China¡¦s Vice-President is cited in state media

Still no sight of Xi ; Health rumours abound as China¡¦s Vice-President is cited in state media

384 words

14 September 2012

TODAY (Singapore)





(c) 2012. MediaCorp Press Ltd.

BEIJING ¡X China has issued the first comments attributed to President-in-waiting Xi Jinping since his disappearance from the public eye over 10 days ago ignited rumours over his health, but there was no public sighting or new photograph of him.

Mr Xi, who has skipped meetings with visiting foreign leaders over the past week, was cited by state media late on Wednesday as expressing condolences to the family of a veteran Communist Party official who died last week.

Beijing has still not issued a statement directly responding to the rumours over the 59-year-old¡¦s health.

Early rumours said Mr Xi injured his back while swimming or pulled a muscle while playing football.

As the days passed, the speculation escalated to more serious conditions, including a heart attack, stroke, or emergency surgery.

Yesterday, Hong Kong¡¦s Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said a small cancerous growth had been discovered on Mr Xi¡¦s liver on Sept 2 and that he had undergone surgery to remove it this week at the elite military 301 Hospital in Beijing.

The centre said he was expected to reappear in public next week.

The China News service, in a report posted on its website on Wednesday night, said senior officials including President Hu Jintao and Mr Xi ¡§expressed their grief and heartfelt sympathies through various means to the relatives of Huang Rong¡¨, a retired official from southern Guangxi region who died aged 102 on Sept 6. It did not directly quote Mr Xi.

Mr Xi, China¡¦s Vice-President, is due to take over as Communist Party head later this year and as president next year as the country transitions to a new generation of leaders. His prolonged and unexplained disappearance has raised questions about the stability of the succession process.

A chief strategist with a United States securities firm in Tokyo said that Beijing¡¦s silence ¡X though in keeping with a Chinese tradition of not discussing the health of senior leaders ¡X could indicate some discord behind the scenes.

¡§I assume this whole incident reflects some behind-the-scenes frictions in formulating policies under the new leadership,¡¨ the strategist said, speaking on condition of anonymity. AGENCIES

MediaCorp Press Ltd