Forget “Where’s Wally?” Everyone’s Searching for China’s President-in-Waiting

Where’s Wally in China

Some nights my son chooses a “Where’s Wally” book for his night-time read. That usually means a long hunt for the red-striped traveler and his cohorts. (Modern Wally has a dog, wizard, friend and nemesis along with accouterments from a scroll to a camera.) We usually end the hunt a half hour after my vision has failed.

Today in China there’s a similar search underway. But instead of a miniature cartoon character in a confusing landscape, they’re trying to find the next President.

Xi Jinping is the anointed successor to President Hu Jintao. At the soon-to-be-scheduled 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China  Xi will be appointed President. This is a once in a decade transition of leadership.

Only they’ve misplaced the next President.

Xi Jinping cancelled meetings with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This was meant to include a photo opportunity profiling the future leader next to Madame Icon. (Doesn’t everyone want to get their photo taken next to Hillary? I mean, other than Bill.)

The rumours circulating online are wide and varied, including:

  • Broken back sustained in sports
  • Pulled back muscles from swimming
  • Assassination attempt by supporters of Bo Xilai
  • Car accident (but not a black Ferrari) staged by supporters of Bo Xilai
  • Incarcerated by opposing political camps

The Hong Kong Standard today summarised the reasons for concern:

“So when the presumptive head of that opaque leadership disappears from public view, rumour mills go into frenzy.”

The China rumour mill was also sent into overdrive when Russian President Vladimir Putin remarked that the APEC Summit was delayed last weekend due to Hu Jintao’s need to attend to “an important but unspecified domestic issue.”

The answer remains unknown. By the end of the year Xi Jinping is due to take over leadership of the world’s second largest economy and a growing force in world politics.

Before then you have to find him. Is that Xi Jinping in the upper left corner below?

Where’s Xi Jinping?

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