16 Sep 2012

Xi Jinping appears in public after two weeks absence

10:17 am on 16 September 2012

China's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping has appeared in public for the first time in about two weeks, following rumours about his health and the state of the country's leadership succession.

The state news agency Xinhua said Vice President Xi had visited China Agricultural University for activities marking this year's National Science Popularisation Day, according to the Reuters news agency.

It gave no other details but a photo showed a smiling Mr Xi in apparent good health walking outside.

Sources have said Mr Xi hurt his back while swimming earlier this month.

Speculation included that he was seriously ill and even that there had been an attempted assassination.

Beijing has yet to formally announce a date for the party's five-yearly congress, at which Mr Xi is tipped to replace Hu Jintao as party chief, although it is still expected to be held in mid or late October at the earliest.

In March next year, Mr Xi is formally to take up the reins of the world's second-largest economy.