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What happened before Hu Jintao was escorted out of Congress? CNA captured rare footage in lead-up

A rare look at the moments leading up to the unexpected exit of former Chinese president Hu Jintao from the closing of the Communist Party Congress on Oct 22. Mr Hu was seen speaking to Mr Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature.

What happened before Hu Jintao was escorted out of Congress? CNA captured rare footage in lead-up

Chairman of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, Li Zhanshu speaking to former Chinese President Hu Jintao moments before Mr Hu was unexpectedly escorted out of the Communist Party Congress. (Image: CNA)

BEIJING: Rare footage captured by CNA in the moments before former Chinese president Hu Jintao's unexpected departure from the closing session of the Communist Party Congress on Saturday (Oct 22) may shed new light on the incident.

The current head of China’s legislature or the National People’s Congress, Mr Li Zhanshu, is seen sitting on the left of Mr Hu in the main auditorium of the Great Hall of the People.

He takes a set of papers from the former leader's hand and arranges it, before placing it back on the table, while leaning in to speak with Mr Hu.  

Mr Li was a member of the previous Politburo Standing Committee, the party's top decision-making body.

These moments occurred shortly after the media, including CNA, were allowed to move from a holding area into the hall to witness proceedings.

Just minutes before that, Chinese state media reported that a new central committee had been elected at China's twice-a-decade Party Congress, which journalists were not allowed to witness. 

Seated on Mr Hu’s other side, Chinese President Xi Jinping looks on before turning away, while outgoing Premier Li Keqiang, who was sitting next to him, keeps his gaze straight ahead.  

Mr Li is then seen sliding the stack of papers away from 79-year-old Mr Hu while saying something to him, as the former leader looks ahead.

Mr Xi, who took over as Chinese leader from Mr Hu between late 2012 and early 2013, then appears to try and get someone’s attention. Mr Kong Shaoxun, head of the Communist Party’s secretariat, approaches and speaks with him before leaving. 

Sitting next to Mr Li, ideology tzar Wang Huning, who was reappointed to the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee on Sunday, is seen gesturing at Mr Hu.

Another staff member approaches Mr Hu and holds on to his chair, while listening to Mr Xi who gestures at the documents on the table in front of him. 

The male staff member nods in acknowledgement, before moving between Mr Hu and Mr Li.

In the next few moments, Mr Li exchanges a few words with the staff member while the latter picks up the documents on the table.

Local and foreign media are positioned on level two of the auditorium and watch as Mr Wang looks to be glancing upwards in their direction. He says something to the group. 

The staff member then supports Mr Hu's arm and appears to try and lift him out of his chair. He's also holding on to a pair of spectacles, presumably the one that was on the table in front of Mr Hu previously.

Head of the party’s secretariat Mr Kong approaches to help with Mr Hu's chair as the former president gets up but Mr Hu appears to turn back to his seat and at one point reaches for the documents in the staff’s hand, even as attempts are made to usher him along. 

Eventually, Mr Hu starts to walk towards the stage exit, while being supported by the member of staff.  

But he stops to say something to Mr Xi who nods and replies briefly. As Mr Hu leaves, he is also seen patting Premier Li’s shoulder as he walks past.

Some members of the Congress presidium, like Vice Premier Liu He, top diplomat Yang Jiechi and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission General Zhang Youxia seated on stage in the front row look straight ahead as Mr Hu exits behind.

Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, who lost his spot on the second-highest decision-making body - the Politburo - sits with his arms crossed as the 79-year-old walks behind him. 

Tipped to have been a potential successor to outgoing Premier Li, the 59-year-old is known as "Little Hu" for his resemblance to the former president's political career. He is seen as one of his proteges and is associated with the rival Communist Youth League faction under the senior Hu.

Premier Li is also linked with the faction, which Mr Xi's not part of, and the 67-year-old is set to relinquish his post next March. He has also been excluded from the new central committee.

Meanwhile, newly appointed number two ranking official and Shanghai Party Chief Li Qiang, who looks set to take over from Premier Li, and incumbent Vice Premier Sun Chunlan are seen speaking to each other.  

Following former president Hu’s departure, proceedings continued with delegates voting on other items on the agenda including an amendment to the party’s constitution. 

The former Chinese leader did not return to the hall after that. 

Addressing the incident later that night, Chinese state media attributed Mr Hu's exit to health reasons. 

In a tweet written in English, Xinhua said that Mr Hu was “not feeling well” during the session and added that due to his health, a staff member had accompanied him to a room next to the meeting venue to rest. 

Mr Hu's name was censored from Chinese social media.

Source: CNA/ec
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