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What happened to former Chinese leader Hu Jintao, who withdrew from the Communist Party congress?

What happened to former Chinese leader Hu Jintao, who withdrew from the Communist Party congress?

This was the only upset in one of the most carefully designed events in China: Former Supreme Leader of the country Hu Jintao Suddenly he left the party Closing Ceremony of the Five-Year Congress of the Communist Party of China.

The congress, at which Chinese leaders are appointed to take office, is the most important political event for the party holding on to power. Every detail – from the outcome of your election to the way your tea is served – is planned. Nothing happens outside of the text. Nothing outside the text is allowed to happen.

But this year, it happened.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) looks at former President Hu Jintao (right) moments before he withdrew from the Chinese Communist Party congress take photo: Noel Seles/AFP

The 2,000 delegates to the conference had just cast their ballots to elect the prestigious Central Committee. then, Two men pulled He—who seemed reluctant to let him go—from the Great Hall of the People.in Beijing.

The moment, which was captured on video by journalists who were allowed to enter the venue minutes before, caused doubts and speculation. Hu, 79, had a health problem, as Chinese state media later reported? Or was it purged in a dramatic display by the current leader, Xi Jinping, for the whole world to see?

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“It was a horrific episode – even in Mao’s days, you didn’t see any such dramatic upheaval at the conference,” said Chinese policy expert Victor Xie of the University of California, San Diego.

The world may never know the answer, given the sheer secrecy at the highest levels of Chinese politics. But the decoupage of the footage from the episode provides some additional detail and context about the much-scrutinized moment.

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In the minutes before he withdraws, he seems to be picking up a document from Platform Senior leaders and retired sheikhs.

The man on your left Lee Zanshuo, who was leaving the party the third highest position in power, quickly intervened, covering the paper with a red folder. Then he pushes the document away from him, whispering something in her ear.

The photo shows Hu Jintao (left) next to Li Zhanshu (right) moments before the first withdrew from the CPC Congress.  Zhanshu is talking to Jintao after he tried to get a document on the table
The photo shows Hu Jintao (left) next to Li Zhanshu (right) moments before the first withdrew from the CPC Congress. Zhanshu is talking to Jintao after he tried to get a document on the table take photo: Mark Christino / EFE

It was not clear what this document was, but it seemed that all authorities had documents. A photo of one of the pages, which was subsequently recorded, showed a list of names accompanied by the phrase “Central Committee“.

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The conference was about to announce a new Central Committee, which would make it clear that Xi had expelled elements seen as moderate in favor of his loyal supporters. Senior party leaders and retired seniors have a great influence on the choice.

The delegates have not yet voted on the amendments to the Party’s constitution, and approved Xi’s report on progress over the past five years, nor the internal discipline report. The amendments, which were later revealed, emphasized Xi’s importance as the “core” of the party.

Previous party summits have been the scene of political maneuvering and humiliation by previous leaders. In 1959, the party officially adopted a resolution condemning Peng Dehuaia high-ranking military officer, after he criticized the economic policies of Mao Zedong. during the cultural revolutionmany leaders, including Xi Jinping’s father, Shi ZhongxunThey were purged or publicly humiliated. But those moments happened before the age of the internet — and they were clearly intentional.

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It is not known if Hugh’s withdrawal was planned or not. Many analysts advised not to jump to conclusions. The apparent chaos of the ensuing moments led many to consider the scene unwritten.

Below, watch Hu Jintao’s withdrawal video and details of each recorded moment:

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Shi looks to the side of the room. An aide approaches Shi, talks to him, and touches a paper with his right hand. The assistant bowed, then toward him—who had watched the previous interaction out of the corner of his eye, seeming to listen intently to what was being said.

As Shi was watching, the assistant grabbed his right arm, as if trying to lift him off the seat. He resists, and his arm joins his body. Then the man tries to lift the former commander-in-chief from the chair by pulling him from behind from the armpits, but again fails to remove it. He then tries to take the paper in front of Shi, who holds it on the table.

Video frame showing the moment Hu Jintao tries to take on the role of Xi Jinping while being banished from the CPC congress
Video frame showing the moment Hu Jintao tries to take on the role of Xi Jinping while being banished from the CPC congress

When the aide finally manages to persuade Hu to stand up, Li Zhanshu, Authority No. 3, begins to stand up as if he wants to mediate the situation. And the power on your side – Wang Huningthen No. 5 in the party – pulling me back to the seat discreetly.

Capture the moment when security takes Hu Jintao away;  Li (third from left to right) stands to mediate, but Wang Huning (last from right) appears to be scolding him with a flick on the back.
Capture the moment when security takes Hu Jintao away; Li (third from left to right) stands to mediate, but Wang Huning (last from right) appears to be scolding him with a flick on the back.

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Li and Wang changed the guard at the height of Chinese power: the Politburo Standing Committee announced, the next day.

Lee had reached retirement age – and he was going to leave anyway. Wang is the party’s leading theorist and has served as an advisor and ideological theorist for Xi and Hu. He was promoted to No. 4 in the power hierarchy and is considered close to Xi.

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With the Politburo standing committee filled with his allies, Xi will face little resistance to his agenda, which includes strengthening national security and reshaping the global order to better serve Beijing’s interests. None of the new leaders are inexperienced or young enough to be a potential successor to Xi.

When two assistants begin to remove Hu Jintao from his seat, the former leader stops and says something to Xi, who nodded briefly, not fully turning to look at his predecessor.

The moment Hu Jintao (standing) spoke and touched Xi Jinping (far right) as he was turned away from the CPC congress;  something does not answer
The moment Hu Jintao (standing) spoke and touched Xi Jinping (far right) as he was turned away from the CPC congress; something does not answer

take photo: Andy Wong/AFP

Then he places his left hand on his shoulder. Li KeqiangChinese Prime Minister. Lee also nodded his head and does not turn back.

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Next, Hu Jintao touched the shoulder of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (seated, second from left to right);  The politician also doesn't seem to respond to the former leader
Next, Hu Jintao touched the shoulder of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (seated, second from left to right); The politician also doesn’t seem to respond to the former leader take photo: Noel Seles/AFP

The prime minister has long been seen as an ally and protégé. He rose through the party ranks through leadership roles in the Communist Youth League, the party organization that he headed in the past.

At least two other people sitting on the front platform have old alliances with Hu: outgoing #4, Wang YangDeputy Prime Minister Ho Chun Hwawho were also members of the Communist Youth League.

The new list of senior officials, revealed the next day, excluded the three seen as protecting Hu, breaking the tradition of balancing the different factions of the Party at the fore.

When he walked out of the hall, he passed behind the 19 senior party officials seated at the same long table. Almost no one mentioned anything unusual happening. Some officials spoke to each other at the time. Most stared into the future.

Officials look ahead or talk to each other while Hu Jintao is ejected from the CPC congress
Officials look ahead or talk to each other while Hu Jintao is ejected from the CPC congress take photo: Tingshu Wang / Reuters

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Wu Guoguang, a professor at Victoria University in Canada who served as an advisor to a former Chinese prime minister, said he’d rather not speculate about what happened. But he said he was surprised by the authorities’ icy reactions.

In an interview with Teams columnist Li Yuan, Professor Wu said, “There was Hu Jintao, the former supreme leader of your party, the man who gave so many of you so many opportunities in politics, and how did you handle him?” “This incident demonstrated the tragic reality of Chinese politics and the fundamental lack of decency and humanity in the Communist Party.”

After Hu left, the closing ceremony continued with him The front platform seat is empty just a reminder of the inconvenience. For most people in China, such an episode may not exist at all. Chinese watchers limited the results of a search for Hu’s name on social media to official profile posts, and none of them mentioned his withdrawal. The state TV news program showed Hu Jintao voting and then the empty seat during the ceremony without any explanation.

The official news agency late Saturday night Xinhua He admitted for the first time that he had left the room, tweeted that he was “not feeling” well, and they took him to rest. “Now it’s much better,” the tweet read. However, Twitter is banned in China, and neither the Xinhua News Agency nor any other state media outlet has published any similar explanation within the Chinese firewall, which has fueled further speculation about the incident.

No matter what happened, the symbolism was clear. A former Grand Leader, historically the only person with the stature to challenge the current leader, was removed from the scene. That left only one actor in the spotlight: Xi, on the cusp of his third term as China’s most powerful leader in decades. / Translation by Guilherme Rousseau