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Xi Jinping back: China's VP reappears after mysterious absence

Chinese vice president Xi Jinping has made his first public appearance after two weeks' unexplained absence.

Xi Jinping ChinaEnlarge
China's Vice President and expected future president, Xi Jinping. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Xi Jinping is back. After two weeks out of the public eye, China's vice president and most likely next leader has returned, with no more clues as to where or how he spent his time out.

The scene for Xi's reappearance, as reported by state-run news agency Xinhua, was the China Agricultural University in Beijing. Accompanied by other Communist Party officials, he toured the campus today in honor of National Science Popularization Day.

Xinhua's photos show Xi walking, smiling, and apparently healthy.

The official report makes no mention of the vice president's absence. Yet today's appearance – like a brief mention of the vice president in state media reports earlier this week – seems calculated to prove that Xi is, well, still around.

According to BBC correspondent Damian Grammaticus, the event was probably designed to put the rumors about Xi's health to rest, and demonstrate that he is fit to take over leadership of the Communist Party, as planned, from President Hu Jintao. The transition is due next month.

More from GlobalPost: Xi Jinping's mysterious absence (INFOGRAPHIC)

Speculation abounded after Xi disappeared from view on Sept. 1, cancelling at least four meetings with prominent foreign dignitaries.

Chinese authorities did little to stop the rumor mill churning, as GlobalPost's Asia editor, Emily Lodish, noted. "If anything, they've done otherwise," she points out, "dodging questions and going full force censoring his name online."

Xi's reappearance today has proved he isn't dead; the only other thing it showed, however, was how little Beijing tells us.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/120915/xi-jinping-back-china-vp-reappears