Ex-Chinese president escorted out of party congress in apparent purge

Beijing, Oct 22 (EFE).- Former Chinese President Hu Jintao was escorted Saturday outside the People’s Palace where the closing ceremony of the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is being held, in what appeared to be a purge with public ridicule of the veteran leader.

Shortly after the press entered the great hall and in front of cameras, some beadles approached Hu, sitting to the left of the president and leader of the party, Xi Jinping, and ordered him to get up and leave the room, to which the former president seemed to verbally resist verbally, as EFE witnessed.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) speaks with a steward (C) shortly before former President Hu Jintao (R) was led out during the closing ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, China, 22 October 2022. EFE-EPA/MARK R. CRISTINO

Hu finally left the room, but before that exchanged a few words with Xi, who during the incident remained looking straight ahead oblivious to what was happening behind him.

The unusual scene, which lasted about a minute when journalists entered the plenary hall of the Great Hall of the People, supposes – in the absence of details or official confirmation – the possible political purge of the faction of Xi’s predecessor.

It also suggests that none of those closest to him, such as the current prime minister, Li Keqiang, or Wang Yang, deputy minister who was supposed to replace him, will continue at the top of the formation.

As he left the room and passed the first row where the top leadership was sitting, Hu touched Li on the shoulder, in a gesture some interpreted as solidarity for the loss of influence of the current prime minister in the training.

It seems unlikely that Hu Chunghua, nicknamed “little Hu,” has any chance of entering the all-powerful Standing Committee of the formation, in which all members will be close allies of Xi.

However, some observers and Internet users have not interpreted what happened as a purge, but as a possible physical discomfort of Hu Jintao that would have caused him to withdraw from the room.

If it is confirmed that what has happened was a purge, Xi would ensure his absolute control over the party for at least the next five years.

Already in his opening speech, Xi was highly critical of the 10-year term of his predecessor, who ruled China from 2003 to 2013.

“A decade ago there was progress but also a series of problems that demanded urgent action. There was within the party a lack of clear understanding, a lack of effective measures and a tendency towards weakness. Bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance persisted in many places and departments. Privileges were an issue and some shocking cases of corruption were found,” he said.

He also said “growth was not balanced or sustainable or coordinated” and that some people “didn’t even have faith in the socialist system.” EFE