TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chinese dissident artist Badiucao (巴丢草) uploaded an illustration on Saturday (October 22) mocking the controversial departure of former chairman Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) from the Great Hall of the People during the closing ceremony of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party.
Seated to the right of current chairman Xi Jinping (習近平), he was approached by a man – who some claim is Xi’s personal bodyguard – asking Hu to leave the room. However, Hu refuses to get up and quickly tries to grab a folder in front of Xi, which prevents Hu from taking it.
Despite continued resistance from Hu, the man eventually manages to get the former chairman to his feet. Hu then resists attempts to lead him out of the room.
When Hu finally agrees to leave, Hu hits Xi on the shoulder, who avoids eye contact but nods slightly and says something unintelligible in response. Hu finally appears to cooperate in leaving the room and pats outgoing Prime Minister Li Keqiang (李克強) on the shoulder, who appears shocked.
According to a tweet posted by Chinese state media outlet Xinhua, Hu had “urged” to attend the closing session despite his ill health. It claimed that when Hu began to feel unwell during the session, “his staff, for his health, accompanied him to a room next to the meeting location to rest. He is much better now.”
However, because Hu is a member of the rival Communist Youth League (CYL) Faction (團派), there has been intense speculation that Hu’s removal was a deliberate, public display of confirmation of Xi’s total dominance of the Chinese Communist Party. In a foreign policy article titled “What the Hell Just Happened to Hu Jintao,” Deputy Editor James Palmer posited three possible explanations for Hu’s dramatic departure.
The first possibility Palmer mentioned was that Hu had suddenly tested positive for COVID. The second was that Hu had given some sort of last-minute indication that he would abstain on a vote against Xi.
Palmer suggested the third reason for the incident could be that Xi’s plan was to “deliberately and publicly humiliate his predecessor,” possibly prior to the imposition of party sanctions on Hu. Palmer pointed out that Xi had previously used harsh language against Hu and other older rivals, such as referring to the “sliding into weak, hollow and watered-down party leadership in practice.” Such an act would send a signal to retired elders that Xi’s power is now absolute.
Based on photos just before the incident, others suggest that Hu tried to see the folder of new appointees ahead of time, prompting outgoing Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Li Zhanshu (栗戰書) to avoid him. This would have prompted Xi to call security to take Hu away.
My cartoon about the resignation of former leader Hu Jintao at the closing of the Chinese Congress today #China #HuJintao #XiJingping #TwentyCongressClosingSession#Hujintao pic.twitter.com/X0TwczGeGP
— Bad ї ucao (@badiucao) October 22, 2022