Xinhua News Agency

Ailing vice-premier Huang shows he is still on the job

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 May, 2006, 12:00am

Vice-Premier Huang Ju has sent a congratulatory message to a mainland financial publishing house, Xinhua said in a brief report last night apparently aimed at quashing rumours of his declining health and reaffirming the political standing of China's sixth most senior leader.

Mr Huang, 68, was reportedly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during a routine medical check before the Lunar New Year.

Despite official confirmation in March that he was ill but was recovering, rumours have persisted that his health is worsening - in part because pancreatic cancer is extremely difficult to treat and sufferers have a very high death rate.

This is the second time the authorities have sought to show subtly that Mr Huang is not out of politics just because he is ill. Last month Xinhua reported Mr Huang had sent a message to the nation's labour organisations.

The latest message, which Xinhua said was sent in the past few days and urged the publishing house to promote China's financial development, could be more significant because one of Mr Huang's principal responsibilities before his illness was to oversee the financial sector.

Observers said it was hard to tell whether the message was intended as a signal he is recovering well and ready to resume work or just another reminder of his standing in the party.