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 - 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

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs