Former Chinese President Hu Jintao was unceremoniously hauled out of the closing ceremony of the ruling Communist Party’s congress on Saturday.
Hu, 79, Xi Jinping’s immediate predecessor, sat to Xi’s left. According to a Reuters witness at the congress, he was taken off the stage of the main auditorium of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing by two stewards.
Video footage published by AFP showed a steward repeatedly trying to lift Hu from his seat, drawing concerned looks from officials seated nearby. Hu then put his hand on Xi’s folder, and then Xi put his hand on the folder.
China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu, seated to Hu’s right, gave the former president’s folder to a steward, wiping his own head with a cloth after Hu finally stood up.
Looking distressed, Hu appeared to resist leaving as the stewards escorted him out, turning back to his seat at one point. On his way out, he exchanged words with Xi and patted Premier Li Keqiang, seated to the right of Xi, on the shoulder.
Video of the incident, highly unusual given the meticulous stage management of most such events, was widely shared on Twitter but could not be found on China’s heavily censored social media platforms.
State media coverage of the ceremony did not include the scene, which occurred just as journalists were entering the hall.
Hu had appeared slightly unsteady last Sunday when he was assisted onto the same stage for the opening ceremony of the congress.
The once-in-five-years congress concluded with amendments to the party’s constitution that cements the core status of Xi and the guiding role of his political thought within the party.