BEIJING — Former Chinese President Hu Jintao was led out of the closing ceremony of the country’s Communist Party Congress on Saturday in a moment of unexpected drama at an otherwise highly choreographed event.
The 79-year-old was sitting next to President Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing when he was approached by a man in a suit and surgical mask who spoke to him and appeared to pull on his right arm.
As Xi watched, the man placed both hands under Hu’s armpits and tried to lift him from his chair. Xi appeared to be talking to his predecessor before the man came between them and tried to pick him up again.
Another man in a mask arrived, Hu eventually got up and after he appeared to try to get back to his seat before being led away after exchanging a few words with Xi and placing a hand on Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s shoulder, the number 1 in the country. 2 official.
Just before the incident, Hu had spoken with Li Zhanshu, the chairman of the standing committee, the top leadership team in China.
Li had turned his chair to talk to the former president. When Hu was led away by the men, Li tried to get up but was pulled back by Wang Huning, another party leader.
No explanation was given for the incident, which lasted several minutes and took place shortly after international media were let into the room to report on the bi-decade event, when new promotions and appointments are announced and the political strategy for the next. 5-year cycle.
It came after the party passed amendments to the constitution to bolster Xi’s core status and the leadership of his political thought within the party, which has about 96 million members.
Among the amendments, the “Two Establishes” define Xi as the party’s “core” leader and his ideas as the guiding principles of China’s future development. The “Two Safeguards” ensure Xi’s “core” status within the party and the party’s centralized authority over China.
The central committee will announce the new politburo on Sunday, which usually consists of 25 people. A new standing committee, the party’s top leadership team, will also be announced.
Prime Minister Li Keqiang, a strong supporter of economic reform, was one of seven members of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee who will not be reappointed in a leadership shuffle on Sunday.
It is widely expected that Xi Jinping will retain his status as general secretary and head of the Chinese armed forces.
Given that he had cemented his status as a “core leader”, he could also be called “party chairman”, a title previously awarded only to Mao Zedong, who ruled the People’s Republic of China for 27 years after its founding in 1949.
His third title, President, will not be due for renewal until the spring.
Xi’s power appears unabated by the events of a tumultuous year, including a sharp economic slowdown, frustration over his zero-Covid policy and China’s growing alienation from the West, exacerbated by economic competition, tensions over the Taiwan Strait and disagreements over the Russian war in Ukraine.
In his closing remarks, President Xi said the Chinese Communist Party, now 100 years old, is still in its prime.
“The Communist Party of China is once again embarking on a new journey on which it will undergo new tests,” he added, according to the Associated Press.
The congress concluded with the playing of the socialist anthem ‘The Internationale’.
Janis Mackey Frayer reported from Beijing and Leila Sackur from London.
Reuters and Associated Press contributed.