A close family friend of missing Chinese vice president Xi Jinping told The Sydney Morning Herald’s John Garnaut that China’s president-in-waiting is fine, but Ian Johnson and Jonathan Ansfield of The New York Times report that whenever he does resurface, Xi will face a political arena rife with factional jockeying ahead of the 18th Party Congress:
The most obvious sign of discord is that the dates for the congress have not been set. Most political experts here expected it to be held in mid-October, but without an official announcement, some are predicting it will be delayed.
“We hear that the congress will be held in late October or early November,” a security official from southern China said. “Currently we’re planning for that.”
One reason for the delay, the experts say, is what now appears to have been a contentious meeting in early August at the seaside resort of Beidaihe, China. According to the official script, this was to have been the final big meeting before the congress of leaders from the party’s various factions: the military, big state enterprises, descendants of revolutionary families, leaders of critical Communist Party organizations and others. The details of the congress were to be finalized at Beidaihe and the dates announced later in August.
Instead, according to information that is slowly leaking out, the Beidaihe meeting and other sessions beforehand in Beijing were especially tense. “The atmosphere was very bad, and the struggles were very intense,” said a political analyst with connections to the party’s nerve center, the General Office.
For The Diplomat, Colonel Brian Killough of The Council on Foreign Relations writes that the CCP’s handling of Xi’s absence may threaten its public legitimacy:
Is there a real concern over the public’s perception of his ability to rule if has a serious health issue?
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