Media speculate Xi injured in accident
The China Post news staff and Reuters
September 10, 2012, 12:09 am TWN
There were a series of media reports saying that Chinese Vice President and presumptive future top leader Xi Jinping was injured in a traffic accident, barring him from some public functions.
Xi and He Guoqiang, who supervises discipline affairs in China, have been receiving medical treatments at Beijing's 301 Military Hospital after they were injured in two separate road accidents on the evening of Sept. 4, according to reports of Boxun, a U.S.-based citizen news website.
There were also reports in Hong Kong media about the accidents, sparking speculation and rumors that they were assassination attempts.
Xi, aged 59 and a new-generation leader in China, has been widely tipped to take over the top Communist post from General Secretary Hu Jintao at the Communist Party Congress expected to take place in October this year. Xi is also expected to take over national presidency in next March.
But there were rife rumors after Xi canceled a public appearance for a meeting with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sept. 5.
There were also unconfirmed reports that Xi was suffering from a painful spinal cord problem.
The media cited internal Beijing sources claiming that Xi was involved in a mysterious car accident in Beijing.
His vehicle was sandwiched by jeeps and Xi was said to have passed out during the collision before being rushed to Beijing's 301 Military Hospital with injuries.
According to the source, He Guoqiang, the secretary of the Commission for Discipline Inspection, was involved in a separate road accident on the same night when a truck traveling at high speed hit his car from behind, causing it to turn over.
He also was rushed to the 301 Military Hospital and was said to be in a more critical condition.
There were rumors that the perpetrators could be military officers and supporters of Bo Xilai, former commerce minister and Chongqing party boss, who has been in detention for investigation concerning unspecified "serious discipline violations" since March.
Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was given a suspended death sentence last month for her role in murdering British businessman Neil Heywood. Bo was believed to have helped cover up the crime.
General Liu Yuan, political commissar of the General Logistics Department of the People's Liberation Army of China, was reportedly to have personally coordinated the medical treatment for Xi and tightened security at the military hospital.
Liu, son of former Chinese President Liu Shaoqi, who was persecuted by ex-Communist leader Mao Zedong, was once thought to be among the senior military officers that have built close ties with Bo, son of another former Chinese Communist leader.
But Liu was thought to have ceded relations with Bo because of his close relations with Xi, who is expected to treat Liu as one of his own men in the influential military sector.
Media in Hong Kong, including the Apple Daily, reported that Xi was originally scheduled to meet with visiting Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt in Beijing today.
But the latest itinerary for Thorning-Schmidt has been revised to skip the meeting, said the reports.
Some analysts said it could take a few more days to clarify and clear the situations because the heavy guard on top officials' activities in China often makes it difficult to verify or prove media claims, especially those appearing on the Internet.