BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese authorities and media remained silent on the whereabouts of Vice President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, sparking rumors and raising questions over why Beijing is not being more forthcoming on the health of its president-in-waiting.
Xi has skipped meetings with visiting leaders and senior officials over the past week, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, because of what sources told Reuters was a possible back injury suffered while swimming.
Xi has not been seen in public since September 1 but Chinese officials have refused to give any explanation for his absence from the public stage, giving rise to bizarre speculation on the country's Internet rumor mill.
Xi failed to appear on state television's evening broadcast on Wednesday, which featured almost every other member of the nine-man Politburo Standing Committee, China's top political body.
Among various theories being floated, the 59-year-old Xi has had a stroke or heart attack or was the target of an assassination attempt.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, asked on Wednesday for the third consecutive day about Xi's health, again declined to respond. "I don't have any information about this to announce," he said.
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