China’s Xi finally appears in public amid rumours over health
BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping appeared in public yesterday for the first time in about two weeks, visiting a Beijing university in what appeared to be an effort to dispel rumours of serious illness and a troubled succession.
In a brief English-language report that broke the official silence on his whereabouts, the Xinhua news agency said Vice President Xi had arrived at China Agricultural University in the morning for activities to mark National Science Popularisation Day.
Pictures on state television’s main evening news showed a healthy-looking, relaxed Xi inspecting ears of corn, chatting with students and laughing with children. Reuters had reported that Xi was likely to make an appearance yesterday.
Sources said Xi hurt his back while swimming earlier this month and that he had been obeying doctors’ orders to get bed rest and undergo physiotherapy.
A Reuters reporter at the university saw a man with sleek black hair wearing a white shirt — who from a distance looked like Xi — getting loud applause as he stepped out of the building housing an exhibition and raised his arms up and down twice in a gesture of vigour.
A later, full description of Xi’s visit by Xinhua said he inspected exhibitions on growing drought-resistant corn and a talk on how to fight food adulteration, a perennial problem in the world’s second-largest economy.
“Food is the people’s first necessity, and food safety is an important issue for people’s livelihood,” the report quoted him as saying.