Former Chinese leader Hu Jintao unexpectedly led out of room as Communist Party Congress comes to a close | CNN
Former Chinese top leader Hu Jintao was unexpectedly led out of the closing ceremony of a major meeting of China’s ruling Communist Party Saturday, according to images and video.
Hu, 79, was seated in a prominent position at the front table in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, directly next to his successor, current leader Xi Jinping, when he was approached by a staff member, according to images and video of the meeting.
While seated, Hu appeared to talk briefly with the male staff member, while Politburo Standing Committee member Li Zhanshu, who was seated to his other side, had his hand on Hu’s back.
Hu then appeared to rise with the help of the staff member, who’d linked his arm around the former leader’s, while a second man came over. Hu spoke with the two men briefly and initially appeared reluctant to leave.
He was then escorted by the two men from his seat, with one holding his arm, as other party members seated behind the main table looked on.
On his way out, Hu was seen to pause and appeared to say something to Xi and to pat the leader and Premier Li Keqiang on their shoulders – both of whom appear to have nodded. It was not clear if Xi spoke.
At one point, while Hu was standing and discussing with the two men before making his exit, Li Zhanshu appeared to try and rise from his seat, but was directed back to his seat by a tug on his suit jacket by fellow Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Huning, seated next to him.
Hu, who retired in 2013, has been seen in increasingly frail health in public in recent years.
Hu’s departure made for a dramatic moment within the otherwise procedural closing day of the Communist Party’s National Congress.
The week-long event, which included some 2,300 delegates, ended Saturday with the rubber-stamping of a reshuffle of the party’s elite, roughly 200-member Central Committee and the approval of changes to the Party Constitution, where several phrases linked to Xi Jinping’s policies and ideology were inscribed.
The closing event comes one day before the reveal of the party’s new top leadership. Xi, who is widely seen to have cemented power around himself by eliminating rivals and dampening the lingering power of party elders, is expected to be re-confirmed as party chief, breaking the two-term norm for the top leader observed in recent decades.