News / Asia

In China, Still No Word on VP Xi

China's Vice President Xi Jinping speaks with Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi (not pictured) during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing August 29, 2012.
China's Vice President Xi Jinping speaks with Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi (not pictured) during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing August 29, 2012.
VOA News
Chinese officials and state media remained silent Wednesday on the status of the country's leader-in-waiting, Xi Jinping, as rumors continued to swirl regarding his 11-day absence from public life.

At a regular press briefing, China's Foreign Ministry again refused to provide any details on the Chinese vice president, who was expected in just a few weeks to be named the country's top leader for the next decade. Spokesperson Hong Lei deflected several reporters' questions about Xi, saying he had no information.

​Xi has not appeared at a number of meetings with foreign visitors during the past week, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He was last seen in public on September 1 at the opening of the fall semester of the Beijing Communist Party school.

Xi Jinping

  • Named president on March 14, 2013
  • Named secretary-general of Communist Party and head of China's Central Military Commission November 15, 2012
  • Vice president from 2008-2013
  • Joined the Communist Party of China in 1974
  • Born in Fuping, Shaanxi Province in 1953
  • Son of revolutionary hero Xi Zhongxun, who fell out with Chairman Mao Zedong and was imprisoned for years before being politically rehabilitated
  • Married to Chinese folk singer Peng Liyuan
Official silence on the matter has fueled speculation about Xi's health. The most commonly repeated rumors suggest the 59-year-old suffered a mild stroke, heart attack, or back injury. But other more far-fetched rumors suggest he was the target of an assassination attempt by political foes.

While many observers point out that the speculation is unsubstantiated, they say the episode reveals the government's crumbling sense of credibility among Chinese citizens and foreign media.

Joseph Cheng, a political science professor at City University in Hong Kong, said the Communist Party's time-tested record of keeping the health conditions of its leaders a state secret may be hurting more than it is helping.

"This certainly reveals a lack of a sense of accountability to the domestic population and to the international community," he said. "I'm sure many foreign ministry officials understand that this secrecy may in fact backfire and may generate unhealthy and unnecessary speculation, but I'm afraid that they simply cannot or dare not persuade top leaders to change their positions."

But Cheng says there is no evidence to suggest the incident will affect the Communist Party's tightly-controlled leadership transfer that is expected to begin in the coming weeks with a Communist Party Congress.

"We have detected no signs that there will be serious leadership changes before the 18th Party Congress," he said. "Chinese leaders in the past five years or so have been working hard to prepare for a predictable succession process, and they certainly would like to keep it that way. "

Meanwhile, rumors continue to fly in China, both on the street and on the country's heavily censored microblogs. Jeremy Goldkorn, the editor of Danwei.com - a website about Chinese media and Internet - says Beijing's team of web censors are working overtime to squash the rumors.

"As is the practice, they're being scraped quite thoroughly. So it's quite hard to find any of these rumors on the Chinese Internet," he said. "The name of Xi Jinping, I think right now is still a blocked search term on Sina Weibo, the big Twitter-like service, and so is backache. So they're doing a pretty good job of keeping it clean."

Beijing continues to downplay the importance of Xi's public absence, while questions remain regarding the future leadership of the world's second largest economy.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bob from: Beijing
September 12, 2012 8:59 AM
Yes,I indeed could not find any info about Xi Jinping on Sina Weibo,China twitter-like site, the content about our new future president is seriously censored .
In Response

by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
September 18, 2012 3:18 PM
In most countries, there is procedure or protocol which would be followed if a senior government official is absent from his job it has to be officially documented and publicized to the entire country, if not the entire world. Not so in China, I guess. If China wants to follow internationally established practice, it should do the same.
In Response

by: Anonymous
September 13, 2012 4:10 AM
Vice-president Xi Jinping is on the way to DIAOYU Island by a submarine to claim sovereignty. He will declare "DIAOYU Island belongs to China forever!" on behalf of Chinese people on DIAOYU Island.
In Response

by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
September 12, 2012 2:09 PM
Is this a matter of state secrets or internal affairs not to be interfered or sovereignty?
In Response

by: alen from: beijing
September 12, 2012 11:18 AM
i fell so strange that it in this keypoint where he is

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More