CHINA: Hu Jintao, the ex-President of China, was unexpectedly escorted out of the Communist Party Congress’s closing ceremony, which disrupted the ongoing event.
Hu Jintao, the frail-looking 79-year-old, was sitting beside President Xi Jinping in the front row of proceedings at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, from where he was approached and led away by two officials. No further explanation regarding the dramatic move was given.
Video footage of the incident is circulating in the media, which shows when Hu Jintao was on stage, two officials approached him and were repeatedly trying to lift him up from the seat. After that, Hu Jintao said something to Xi, who nodded back in response.
Li Zhanshu, a top legislator of China, was seen seated to Hu Jintao’s right, gave the ex-president’s folder to the officials, and wiped his head with a cloth after Hu finally stood to leave.
Hu Jintao seemed very confused and reluctant about leaving his seat on stage at the event, and as he was leaving, he tried to grab some papers from the desk, but Xi held the papers down. Hu appeared to resist the officials while they were trying to take him out.
On his way out, he exchanged some words with Xi, and he patted Premier Li Keqiang’s shoulder, who was sitting right next to Xi. His other colleagues stared firmly at him.
The footage of Hu Jintao being asked to leave the stage was widely shared on Twitter and gained the global attention of people as they tried to work out what happened.
The viral footage was not found on heavily censored social media platforms in China, and it appears like they quickly scrubbed any recent references to him from the internet.
Chinese social media users alluded to the incident by commenting on old posts by Xu on China’s Twitter-like Weibo. Later on Saturday evening, Weibo comments containing Hu’s name were no longer visible.
The week-long ceremony of Congress mostly occurred behind closed doors, but shortly after Hu’s departure, journalists were allowed in to cover the event. Last Sunday, when Hu was assisting on the same stage for the Congress’s opening ceremony, he appeared a bit unsteady.
The once-every-five-year Congress held in Beijing is expected to bring up changes to the party’s constitution, which include confirming Xi’s position as the party’s de facto leader and the primacy of his political philosophy.