Jiang Zemin

Vice-premier is sick, but may not be quitting yet

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 March, 2006, 12:00am


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Mainland authorities yesterday confirmed Vice-Premier Huang Ju , the nation's sixth most senior leader, is ill in hospital, breaking weeks of silence over his absence from official events.

Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) spokesman Wu Jianmin told a news conference Mr Huang was recovering from his illness.

'Not long ago comrade Huang Ju was sick and he was admitted to hospital for treatment. He is now recovering,' Mr Wu said.

His comments were the first official confirmation of Mr Huang's illness following weeks of speculation about his condition.

Mr Huang has been absent from major events usually attended by the entire Politburo Standing Committee.

The South China Morning Post reported last month that Mr Huang, 68, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during a routine medical check-up before the Lunar New Year and had been in hospital since.

Pancreatic cancer is a serious disease that is usually hard to cure. But Mr Wu's remark that Mr Huang was recovering suggests it is unlikely Mr Huang will quit the party's top echelon any time soon.

It is widely expected Mr Huang will miss the annual session of the CPPCC, which opens today, and that of the National People's Congress, which begins on Sunday.

Another subtle signal that Mr Huang will not fade from the political scene immediately was the official release on Wednesday of a speech he made in mid-January. Analysts said it was aimed at sending a message that Mr Huang was still in charge of financial reforms.

Were Mr Huang, an ally of ex-leader Jiang Zemin , to quit, it would clear a politburo seat for an ally of President Hu Jintao .