China’s ex-president Hu Jintao forced out of party congress, wiped from internet as Xi consolidates power

Former Chinese President Hu Jintao was physically removed from office at the Community Party Congress on Saturday and his name wiped from the country’s internet as his successor tightened his ironclad grip on power.

The frail Hu, 79, looked confused when he was dragged from his seat by a steward who repeatedly tried to lift the older man from his seat, drawing worried looks from officials seated nearby.

Hu, who was seated next to Chinese President Xi Jingping, then put his hand on a sheet of paper on a folder in front of the leader.

Xi quickly put his own hand to paper.

China’s top lawmaker Li Zhanshu, seated to Hu’s right, handed the former president’s file to a steward, wiping his head with a rag after Hu finally stood up.

Looking distressed, Hu appeared to resist leaving as stewards escorted him away, returning to his seat at one point. As he walked out, he exchanged words with Xi and patted Premier Li Keqiang, who was seated to Xi’s right, on the shoulder.

Hu appeared to be trying to say something to current Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping

It was unclear why Hu was taken away, as Xi prepares for his next term as leader.

There was no explanation for the departure of the frail leader, who retired in 2013. Hu was escorted out of the congress by officials about halfway through the day’s events at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Hu’s abrupt exit appears to have been censored on Chinese social media platform Weibo, with searches Saturday afternoon for his name returning posts made before the weekend, Bloomberg reported.

Xi is consolidating efforts that should earn him a historic third five-year term, making him the most powerful leader since the country’s revolutionary hero Mao Zedong.

Hu’s abduction was observed by the 2,000 congress attendees and filmed.

Xinhua News, China’s official news agency, reported that Hu « insisted » on attending the session even though he was recovering from illness.

Some on social media have suggested that Hu belongs to a party faction that opposes continued rule by Xi.


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