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Where is China’s president-in-waiting? Mystery surrounds absent politician who hasn’t been seen for a week

By Anna Edwards

PUBLISHED:10:15 EST, 10  September 2012| UPDATED:10:19 EST, 10 September 2012

Xi Jinping, Vice President of the People's Republic of China, has had his meetings cancelled
Xi Jinping, Vice President of the People’s Republic of  China, has had his meetings cancelled

China’s president-in-waiting Xi Jinping has  not been seen in public for more than a week, prompting a wave of speculation on  the reason for his absence.

Mr Xi cancelled meetings with visiting  foreign dignitaries including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and  Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong.

But his sudden absence has not been  reportedly fully explained by Chinese authorities and his movements have been  shrouded in mystery.

China may now be a lynchpin of the global  economy and a force in international diplomacy, but the lives of its leaders  remain a puzzle to its 1.3 billion population.

So when the presumptive head of that opaque  leadership disappears from public view, rumour mills naturally go into a  frenzy.

‘There is a long-standing practice of not  reporting on illnesses or troubles within the elites,’ said Scott Kennedy,  director of Indiana University’s Research Centre for Chinese Politics and  Business in Beijing.

‘The sense is that giving out such  information would only fuel further speculation.’

Adding further fuel to the fire, a scheduled  photo session with visiting Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, which  the media were asked to cover, was abruptly taken off the programme.

In the dark: After his meeting with Hilary Clinton was cancelled, the Chinese population are speculating where their vice-president is
In the dark: After his meeting with Hilary Clinton was  cancelled, the Chinese population are speculating where their vice-president  is

The Foreign Ministry claimed the Xi and  Thorning-Schmidt meeting was never intended to take place.

‘As I said last week, China’s state  councillors will meet the Danish prime minister,’ Foreign Ministry spokesman  said.

When asked about the rumours of an injury,  he said ‘we have told everybody everything,’ and refused to  elaborate.

Most online speculation about the portly  59-year-old Mr Xi has centred on a back problem, possibly incurred when he took  a dip last week in the swimming pool inside the Zhongnanhai leadership compound.  Another rumour has the back being hurt in a soccer game.

This year, China has seen an unusual amount  of political intrigue.

There was the downfall of Politburo member  Bo Xilai, a foprmer Party secretary of  Chongqing, exposing divisions within the  leadership and prompting rumours of nefarious activity ranging from the  wiretapping of top leaders to an attempted coup.

The sudden transfer of a key secretary to  president Hu Jintao earlier this month also spawned conjecture about a Ferrari  crash involving the aide’s son and an ensuing attempted cover-up.

The tension and uncertainty are heightened by  the timing ahead of a generational shift to a new leadership that is to be  headed by Mr Xi.

Mr Xi is expected to first assume Mr Hu’s  mantle as Communist leader at a party congress held once every five years.

Yet the dates for the meeting, expected in  the second half of October, have yet to be announced, prompting talk that at  least some of the seats on the nine-member Standing Committee remain up for  grabs.

Wang Xiangwei, editor-in-chief of Hong Kong’s  South China Morning Post and a long-time state media insider, wrote that Chinese  leaders’ meetings are planned well in advance and cancellations are extremely  rare.

‘Baring Mr Xi himself offering a very  unlikely explanation today about his cancelled meetings last week, the outside  world may never know the exact reason, and the rumours are unlikely to fade  away,’ he wrote

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2201084/Where-Chinas-president-waiting-Mystery-surrounds-missing-politician.html#ixzz265LmUVGf

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