Chinese leader-in-waiting meets Panetta

2012-09-19 09:00
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping shakes hands with US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Larry Downing/ AFP)

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping shakes hands with US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Larry Downing/ AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Beijing - China's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping, whose disappearance from public view for two weeks this month prompted widespread rumours, on Wednesday met visiting US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.

Xi, flanked by several Chinese military officers, shook hands with the Pentagon chief in a frenzy of flashes at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, an AFP reporter saw.

It was Xi's first public meeting with a foreign dignitary since he re-emerged at the weekend having vanished for a fortnight at a highly sensitive time, with China gearing up for a generational handover of power.

The Chinese vice-president looked relaxed and healthy, and wore a dark blue suit with a pale blue tie.

Xi smiled as he sat next to Panetta under grand chandeliers with a vast mural on the wall behind them, and said that seeing the American "reminds me of my visit to the United States" in February.

"I sincerely wish your visit will be a good success and I believe that your visit will be very helpful in further advancing the state to state and military-to-military relations between our two countries," he added.

No reason for disappearance

Panetta responded that it was an "honour to have the opportunity to visit with you here" and he looked forward to discussing promoting security ties between "two great Pacific nations".

Xi's unexplained disappearance had attracted global attention, as well as speculation on China's popular but heavily censored microblogs, with theories about his health ranging from backache to a heart attack.

He has been widely tipped to succeed President Hu Jintao as leader of the ruling Communist Party at a crucial meeting that is expected to be held later this autumn, before taking over as head of state in March next year.

During his absence earlier this month he cancelled meetings with four foreign dignitaries, including visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

His first public appearance came on Saturday, when he was shown on state television visiting a university.

The lengthy footage, along with reports on the official news agency Xinhua, did not give a reason for his disappearance.

During it foreign ministry officials had repeatedly avoided questions on the subject.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    xi jinping  |  hillary clinton  |  leon panetta  |  china  |  us publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

VIDEO: 'British media were raving about Lood, Eben'
'Lack of turnovers part of their plan'
No '07 France ghosts - Foster
Boks not underestimating Wales scrum
Traffic Alerts

You may find it hard to focus on the mundane routines as the greener pastures seem so tempting. It is a good time to expand more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.