Skip to main content

State media: Presumptive Chinese leader appears for first time in 2 weeks

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:53 AM EDT, Mon September 17, 2012
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping talk during their meeting in Beijing on August 30, 2012.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping talk during their meeting in Beijing on August 30, 2012.
  • Xinhua shows Vice President Xi Jinping appearing at a Beijing university
  • Media has not reported him being out in public since September 1
  • Xi is seen as a contender to become China's next leader
  • His public absence has fueled speculation

(CNN) -- Two weeks since his last public appearance, presumptive Chinese leader Xi Jinping was pictured attending an event Saturday in Beijing, state media reported.

The state-run Xinhua news agency, on both its English- and Chinese-language websites, published a one-line story stating that Xi had arrived Saturday morning at China Agricultural University for activities tied to the nation's annual National Science Popularization Day.

An accompanying photo showed him wearing a coat and surrounded by other men as he strolled on the grounds of the Beijing university.

Absence fuels intrigue before power transition

The 59-year-old vice president had not been seen in public since September 1, when he was reported to have given a speech to the Central Party School in Beijing. Images published by major news websites after the date showed Xi smartly dressed in a dark suit and purple tie.

Since then, the cancellation of a number of meetings with high-profile foreign dignitaries has created a storm of speculation as rumor and hearsay fill the void of official information.

For a number of days, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei has declined to answer queries on Xi at the ministry's daily press briefings.

When Xi's meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was abruptly canceled September 5, American officials said their Chinese counterparts had blamed a "scheduling conflict."

No official reasons were given following the cancellation of other appointments, including a meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The lack of comment has fueled unsubstantiated rumors, including wild plot lines ranging from a car crash, to an assassination attempt. Others say Xi has been sidelined by a suspected heart attack or stroke, neither of which have been denied or confirmed.

Xi has been mentioned as a possible successor to Chinese President Hu Jintao.

In a matter of weeks, more than 2,000 delegates are expected to meet in Beijing for the Communist Party's 18th National Congress.

During their event, China's political elite are expected to announce the results of months of political maneuvering, and the names of the five to seven new entrants to Politburo Standing Committee.

Why China needs a PR makeover

Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.