Xi Visibly Steps Out

Xi Jinping, China’s president assumptive, has appeared in public for the first time in a fortnight. State media report that he visited the China Agricultural University in Beijing on Saturday to take part in National Science Popularisation Day. There is a photograph (above) to prove it. The word is that Xi hurt his back while swimming, and his doctors told him to lie low while undergoing bed rest and physiotherapy. He clearly took them at their word–while social media went into a speculative frenzy further whipped up by state media staying silent old school.

Xi always looks a little stiff in public, and carries himself erectly, so it would be difficult to tell if he was suffering any discomfort on his Saturday morning visit. He looks to be carrying his left arm awkwardly, especially in this photograph, but, we are told, he did wave his arms round a couple of times during his inspection walk.

The zipped-up jacket, in contrast to the open ones of most of his entourage, prevents any assessment of whether Xi was wearing a back brace. There doesn’t appear to be any loss of weight or drained looks that might be associated with a serious illness, so injury will suffice as a plausible explanation for Xi’s disappearing act, until, if ever, the state secret of what ailed him is revealed. If the Party Congress, at which Xi will formally start his ascent into the top jobs, goes ahead as expected, we can assume that he is fully recovered.

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