China’s former leader Hu Jintao was for the first time seen in public on Monday, days after he was escorted dramatically out of the Communist Party’s Congress when he visited the Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing to pay respect to his late predecessor Jiang Zemin.
In a very unusual and shocking incident at the ruling Communist Party Congress’ concluding session, Hu was asked was lifted from his chair by two men and escorted out under the complete glare of the media, disrupting and attracting a lot of media attention at the event in which Chinese President Xi Jinping secured the historic third term as the Communist Party’s leader.
Later it was reported by the Chinese state media that Hu was not feeling well and hence was escorted, however, his clearly visible reluctance to exit the meeting fired speculations over whether it was a play of political factors.
On the morning of Monday, Hu was seen along with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s other top leaders in the hospital, where he paid his final respects to Jiang before the latter was cremated, as seen in the footage by the state broadcaster CCTV.
Jintao appeared frail as he stood next to Xi as the officials thrice bowed before the body of Jiang. Later, Hu was unsteadily walking with an attendant’s help as the cadres were seen walking around the funeral display and expressing their grief to Jiang’s widow.
At the high-attention-grabbing Congress, the premier was anointed as the party’s general secretary for a period of another five years, breaking the norm of the president stepping down after completing two terms.
It was highly speculated that Hu’s dramatic exit was aimed at sending a strong political signal to the leaders who might be opposing the coronation of Xi.
(With inputs from agencies)