Of Disappearing Leaders

David just sent his commentary on the latest political scandal in the Middle Kingdom. Thanks David!




Ten days after he was last seen in public – on the first of September – Xi Jinping, said by many
to be the replacement for Hu Jintao as leader of the Communist Party of China, when the “fifth
generation” take over in the next month or two, has, it seems, had a mild heart attack.

Okay. Mystery solved. And it was indeed – for ten whole days – a mystery, and a much discussed
one at that. The whole of China – yes, and even the world outside the Middle Kingdom – were
speculating about whether he’d met the same fate as various past leaders-in-waiting. Gone down
in a plane, perhaps? (Look up Lin Biao on the net and see what I mean. Back then it took the
Communist Party two months to explain why Lin Biao wasn’t making any appearances.)

As far as Xi Jinping is concerned, the rumour mill went into overdrive. But now, it seems,
everything’s explained. All’s well again.

Only personally I’d say, until we see the man, walking and talking and with clearly identifiable and
datable documents surrounding him or in his actual hands – a dated newspaper, for instance – I
personally am not sure he’s still alive.

If that’s all it was, a heart attack and a mild one at that; one which won’t stop him taking up his post,
then why haven’t we seen a shot of him lying there, smiling, in bed, getting some rest after his mild
myorcardial infarction? A little bit of reassurance is all the Chinese people need, surely?

Oh, and remember… the latest statements are by the same people who said Xi Jinping had “hurt his
back” when he went for his daily swim. But again, if that’s all it was, a simple shot of the glorious
leader sat in a chair, resting his back, was all it’d take to stop the rumours getting out of hand.

Why aren’t they showing these? Or is it true what other sources are saying and that Xi Jinping was
hurt, possibly even killed in a car accident that was also an assassination attempt?

Oh, and now – a mere thirty minutes back – Xi Jinping has had an official mention, as one of five
leading government officials who publicly sent their condolences to a 102-year-old general who
recently died. But there’s still no picture of him, still no official explanation of events. And why
should that be? Has he been badly injured and they still don’t know whether he’ll survive or not?

Of course, it may all just be poor media management on the part of his officials. They may have
reasoned that it would be better to hide Xi Jinping away for a while than to show him looking frail
at the very moment when – as overall leader of China – they want him to look powerful. If so, I
think they’re wrong. It’s no small thing, after all. This uncertainty as to his whereabouts has actually
resulted in a distinct wobble on the stock exchanges of the world. Share prices have fallen.

So, as I’m, fond of saying, watch this space, and let’s see where this story goes and just how long
it’ll be before we either see the man, walking about as alive as you and me, or be watching a state
broadcast announcing his tragic death. Because unless he’s part of Schrodinger’s Politburo, he’s
either one or the other.

Yeah, and in case I didn’t mention – a propos of that now-disgraced other candidate, Bo Xilai –
there is a power struggle going on at the very highest level of the Chinese government. One whose
outcome will very much affect all of our futures. The big question behind the personalities is – Is
China going to take a big step towards the West, or a big step away?

So let’s hope Xi Jinping is alive and recuperating fast. Because the alternatives to him aren’t worth
considering. A return to Maoism? No thank you. Xi Jinping…. hurry back.

David Wingrove

Thursday 13th September 2012

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