China’s Presumptive New Leader Is Mysteriously Absent
he strange disappearance from public view of China’s presumptive new leader is turning a year that was supposed to showcase the Communist Party’s stability into something of an annus horribilis.
Over the past week, the new leader, Xi Jinping, has missed at least three scheduled meetings with foreign dignitaries, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last Wednesday and the prime minister of Denmark on Monday. Speculation that his health, either physical or political, has prevented him from making public appearances is rife on the Chinese Internet, but there has been no official explanation for his absence.
While some people with ties to the party elite say they suspect that Mr. Xi’s ailments are not serious, his unexplained absences are especially conspicuous on the eve of what is supposed to be China’s once-in-a-decade transfer of power. It also adds to a litany of woes that have disrupted the Communist Party’s hopes that a seamless political transition would send a signal of strength to the Chinese people and the world at large.