A highly unusual event interrupted a scripted Chinese Communist Party Congress Saturday as a former party leader was escorted out of the meeting in full public view.
Former Chinese leader Hu Jintao was escorted from the closing session of the congress, appearing uncertain of what was going on.
Hu, 79, who stepped down as party leader 10 years ago, appeared confused and reluctant to go, according to the Guardian.
Early drama: Hu Jintao seen being led out soon after reporters are led into the main hall pic.twitter.com/pRffGZF60I
— Danson Cheong (@dansoncj) October 22, 2022
He was approached in his seat by a party official, who then pulled the older man to his feet as Hu appeared to resist.
Here is a more zoomed in video of the incident in question:
Former Chinese leader Hu Jintao taken out of the Chinese Party Congress — apparently against his will. What happened? Hu was China’s top official before Xi. Did he oppose Xi’s historic power grab?
CNN reporting on the incident censored in Chinapic.twitter.com/snl7lUhK9P
— Frida Ghitis (@FridaGhitis) October 22, 2022
Chinese leader Xi Jinping firmly held down notes of his that Hu had reached for, as most of the rest of the leaders ignored him.
The incident took place after foreign journalists were allowed to video the congress, ensuring Hu’s departure would be highly public.
China’s Xinhua News Agency later said Hu “was not feeling well during the session, his staff, for his health, accompanied him to a room next to the meeting venue for a rest. Now, he is much better,” according to The Washington Post.
In an Op-Ed in Foreign Policy, deputy editor James Palmer offered some analysis of the event, noting “it’s hard to see what condition could cause both an urgent need to remove him with cameras rolling and his deep reluctance to go. And even in a party context where secrecy and caution are the norms, why would others not aid a frail former colleague?”
Palmer suggested that it could be possible Xi learned Hu, whether through intent or perhaps an illness, might mar the unanimous vote on Xi’s policies that concluded the congress.
“But the third and most disturbing possibility is that it was planned, and we just witnessed Xi deliberately and publicly humiliate his predecessor—possibly as a precursor to wielding the tools of party discipline, followed by judicial punishment, against him,” he wrote.
“This would be an extraordinary move but one that rammed home the message of Xi’s absolute power,” he wrote.
“Humiliating Hu in this fashion would also send a clear signal to the ‘retired elders,’ the former high-level leaders who long remained a force within the party, that Xi’s power was unbound,” he wrote.
When Xi opened the congress on Sunday, he declared his vision that by 2049, China would reach global leadership as a modern socialist superpower, the Post noted.
In that speech, he spoke of “dangerous storms” he did not define that could arise if China does not have total security from external threats.
“China has entered a new era of maximum Xi,” Neil Thomas, an analyst of Chinese politics for the Eurasia Group, said, according to The New York Times.
Thomas said the results of the party congress mean “more support for Xi’s policies, which means a stronger focus on political control, economic statism, and assertive diplomacy.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.