BEIJING: An "unusual" scene at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China sent the media into a guessing game on what happened to former president Hu Jintao.
At the closing ceremony of the congress Saturday (Oct 22), Hu - the predecessor of Xi Jinping - was seen being escorted out of the auditorium of the Great Hall of the People here, where the event was held.
As the media entered the venue halfway through the meeting, Hu was seen being helped to leave his seat.
Appearing confused, the 80-year-old hesitated and refused to move.
Xi, who was seated on his right, looked at him but did not react.
On his way out, Hu turned to Xi and spoke to him for seconds.
It was not immediately known what had happened, and this could probably remain a mystery.
The media went wild, speculating that Hu was unwell, suffering from dementia or that he was forced to leave due to power struggle within the party.
The situation appeared awkward after Hu left with his seat remaining empty, which is just next to Xi’s.
The week-long congress of the world’s biggest political party, which is held every five-year, concluded with amendments to the party’s constitution, including incorporating the core status and Xi’s political thoughts.
The new 205-member central committee line-up for the next five years was also elected at the congress and announced via Xinhua, the country’s national news agency.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s name was missing from the list, indicating that he would retire as his term ends in March next year.
Except for Hu Chunhua, the other three deputies of Li - Han Zheng, Sun Chunlan and Liu He - were also missing from the list.
This means China will see a big change in top leadership next year.
The party’s top posts, including the general-secretary position, is expected to be announced when the new leadership meets the media on Sunday (Oct 23).