June 20, 2024

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Former Chinese President Hu Jintao is escorted out of the Party Congress

Former Chinese President Hu Jintao is escorted out of the Party Congress

BEIJING (Reuters) – Former Chinese President Hu Jintao was unexpectedly escorted outside the closing ceremony of a congress of the ruling Communist Party on Saturday.

Hu, 79, Xi Jinping’s direct predecessor, was seated to Xi’s left. A Reuters witness at the conference said he was taken from the stage by two hosts in the main hall of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Video footage released by AFP showed a host repeatedly trying to lift Hu from his seat, alarming officials seated nearby. Then he put his hand on a piece of paper and put it in Shi’s file, but Shi quickly put his hand on the paper.

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China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu, seated to Huo’s right, gave the former president’s file to a host, wiping his head with a rag after he finally stood up.

Hu Jintao looked sad as he resisted leaving as the hosts escorted him outside and returned to his seat at one point. On his way out, he exchanged words with Xi and patted Premier Li Keqiang on the shoulder, seated to Xi’s right.

A video of the incident, which is highly unusual given the precise stage management of most such events, was widely shared on Twitter but was not found on heavily censored Chinese social media platforms.

On Chinese Twitter-like Weibo, a few social media users alluded to the incident by commenting on old posts featuring Hu, a common tactic used to evade cyber censorship.

By Saturday evening, the comment section on nearly all Weibo posts containing Hu’s name was no longer visible, according to a Reuters review.

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The official media coverage of the ceremony did not include the scene that took place as the journalists entered the hall.

He seemed a little uneasy last Sunday when he was helped at the same stage to attend the opening ceremony of the conference.

The congress, held once every five years, concluded with amendments to the Party’s constitution, which strengthened Xi’s core position and the guiding role of his political thought within the Party.

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(Reporting by Eduardo Baptista and Ryan Wu) Editing by Lincoln Fest, William Mallard and Edmund Blair

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.