On Friday evening, images emerged of Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping having his predecessor, former President Hu Jintao, removed from the Chinese Party Congress. Voices from across the world were quick to express shock and disgust.
“It is clear that Xi controls the Party Congress and wanted to show his muscles to the world by humiliating Hu Jintao in front of the foreign press,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
“Watch this chilling and Orwellian scene. Hu gets heave ho. Xi you later Hu.” said James Stavridis, retired US Navy Admiral and former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO.
The party congress is a highly choreographed event the New York Times reports, making Hu’s unexpected removal all the more concerning. The former president attempted to talk to Xi as he was being dragged away.
Some reports and commentators tried to suggest that Hu might have been feeling unwell, but video of the incident showed that he was resisting repeatedly as he was being removed from the room, looking confused and angry at being hauled away.
Hu was removed from Beijing’s Great Hall of the People not long before Xi was to give a major speech to some 2,300 key CCP officials. Xi ended the two-term limit for presidents in 2018 and is now expected to be officially confirmed for a third term as the CCP general secretary. He serves as both general secretary of the Communist Party, president and head of the armed forces and is often referred to as “Paramount,” or “Supreme Leader.”
The video leaked to Western media platforms, such as Twitter, and quickly went viral. However, it was completely absent from China’s heavily censored social media platforms.
Xi spoke at the opening session of the congress on Sunday, which occurs only once every five years, signaling a pending move on Taiwan, celebrated Beijing’s defeat of Hong Kong’s aspirations of democracy and vowed to defeat COVID.
He also struck a stridently nationalistic tone at the opening of the 20th Party Congress, which seems set to affirm him as leader for life. He seemed to embrace that his muscular government is on a collision course with the West and intends to take over Taiwan.
Blackburn and Stavridis weren’t the only ones to respond to the move, and other commentators on Twitter and elsewhere were quick to denounce Xi over the removal.
Monica Crowley, a former Treasury official, wrote, “The ruthless brutality of the communist purge. Absorb this.”
“Worst case scenario is Xi just pulled a macabre power move intentionally done in front of the country and the world and we all just witnessed a political purge served ice cold,” said Melissa Chan, reporter at VICE.
GBNews Darren Grimes pointed out, “The way in which the frightened, ashen faces refuse to look at their former leader. An awful sight of communism in action.”
Emily Maitlis, author and journalist, said, “Hard to overstate just what a chilling moment this was at the end of a highly choreographed Congress. Xi – Chinese leader who has changed rules to allow for indefinite terms in office – has his predecessor Hu taken away.”
John Bryant, CEO of Operation Hope, highlighted that “Everyone in Chinese leadership must walk around completely paranoid and stressed out, every day of their lives — that this, could happen to them. No words.”
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