If Xi Jinping is alive and well, he has yet to squash rumors otherwise.
All it would take is showing his face, but that is exactly what he hasn't done since Sept. 1.
While that may not in and of itself be concerning, the fact that the presumptive Chinese president canceled at least four meetings with prominent foreign dignitaries (including Hillary Clinton) in that time, is definitely noteworthy.
The rumor mill is churning — ranging from a run-of-the-mill back ache after swimming, to an injury suffered from an assassination attempt.
The Chinese government hasn't quelled speculation. If anything, they've done otherwise, dodging questions and going full force censoring his name online.
GlobalPost infographic: Xi Jinping has gone MIA
In response to questions about whether Xi had been injured, Hong Lei, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, said Tuesday that he had no information on the matter.
When a foreign journalist pushed further, asking whether there was any instability in the Chinese government, Lei gave a most curious answer: "I hope you will raise serious questions."
As the Economist notes, it would appear that a serious question had indeed already been asked.
So, the question now is, why does a government that explicitly prioritizes stability above all else, not do so in this case? Assuming Xi is more or less fine, and that's all it would take to put the matter rather quickly to rest.
GlobalPost reached out to Elizabeth Economy, Council on Foreign Relations director of Asia studies, who said that the "unwillingness of the Chinese government to provide any explanation for Xi’s whereabouts speaks to at least two challenges the country’s political system has thus far failed to address."