While there may be wild rumours surrounding the unprecedented disappearance of Xi Jinping, the man thought to be the next leader of China, the stories — even the heart attacks and assassination attempts — aren’t the most worrying aspect of the scandal.In fact, due to Chinese officialdom’s constant refusal to be transparent with news, wild rumours are just a part of day-to-day life in China.
What’s more worrying, however, is that after 11 days the Chinese government has not released an official statement to end (or even confirm) the rumours. Bloomgberg’s Nicholas Wadhams hits the nail on the head with an article today:
The official Xinhua News Agency took less than a day in July 2011 to deny former President Jiang Zemin had died. Earlier this year, Xinhua published accounts of China’s top security official within days of a Financial Times report that he was under investigation. By comparison, state media haven’t reported on Xi for a week, or mentioned that he canceled meetings with foreign officials on Sept. 5.
Experts say that time frame is, more than anything else, a sign of some kind of event — and some kind of disagreement over how to handle it.
“In a relatively closed system, Chinese society is driven by rumours and conspiracy theories and the government does recognise the need to release some explanation,” John Lee, an adjunct associate professor at the University of Sydney told Wadhams. “The fact that you have not had a definitive explanation from state media suggests that there is internal disagreement as to how to release the truth, whatever that may be.”
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