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Xi appears in public after two weeks

world Updated: Sep 16, 2012 01:41 IST

AFP
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China’s vice president Xi Jinping has made a public appearance, state media said Saturday, following swirling speculation about the whereabouts of Beijing’s leader-in-waiting.

Xi had not been seen in public since September 1 and cancelled meetings with four foreign dignitaries including US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, giving rise to intense speculation about his health.

The vice president arrived at China Agricultural University Saturday morning for “activities marking this year’s National Science Popularisation Day”, news agency Xinhua said.

The brief Xinhua report does not address why Xi has not been seen publicly since September 1. His absence had fuelled rumours of his health and raised questions about the stability of the Communist Party’s succession process.

His unexplained disappearance came at a highly sensitive time for China, which is gearing up for a generational handover of power.

On Thursday, he made his first public communication in nearly two weeks when state media said he had “expressed condolences on the death of old party comrade Huang Rong”, who died on September 6.

The news was published widely in China, but made no mention of Xi’s health, which has been the subject of widespread speculation.

Xi has been widely tipped to succeed President Hu Jintao as leader of the Communist Party at a meeting expected to be held next month, before taking over as head of state in March.