We’ve reported extensively on President Biden’s health woes and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rumored cancer. Add another major world leader to the list of the afflicted, because several media outlets claim Chinese President Xi Jinping, 68, is suffering from a brain aneurysm. Making his life more difficult are rumors of a possible coup by rivals tired of the nation’s uber-strict, economy-killing COVID lockdowns.
— The Times Of India (@timesofindia) May 10, 2022
According to New Delhi-based ANI news service, Xi decided against surgery, instead choosing treatment involving traditional Chinese medicines that soften the blood vessels and shrink aneurysms. He was reportedly hospitalized at the end of 2021.
Signs of trouble appeared at far back as 2019, when Xi’s gait was observed to be “unusual with a noticeable limp,” and he reportedly had to have help sitting down.
The International Business Times reports:
Last October, during a speech in Shenzhen to promote China’s first special economic zone, Xi was “seen and heard” coughing a lot. Though the Chinese media was tight-lipped about his health, critics said Xi had “frequently paused to drink water and coughed repeatedly” during the 50-minute speech.
The chatter only grew louder when the COVID hit because he avoided meeting world leaders from the beginning of the pandemic until the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Worse still for the strongman, China’s President since 2013, rumors of an overthrow are circulating, as China has imposed some of the strictest COVID measures in the world. From The Sun:
Instead of learning to live with the virus, the totalitarian regime’s response to the pandemic is to instead aim to have zero cases with tightly shut borders, mass testing and sweeping quarantines.
China’s brutal strategy sees extreme restrictions imposed on towns and cities with just a handful of infections, with entire buildings sealed off even if only one case has been recorded as those who test positive are shipped off to horror quarantine camps.
Sounding the alarm is Premier Li Keqiang, who called out China’s “complicated and grave” employment situation caused by the lockdown measures. It’s rare to see a Chinese official at odds with Winnie the Pooh, so tongues are wagging. Roger Garside, former diplomat and author of China Coup: The Great Leap to Freedom, said Xi will be ousted by internal rivals with the winner coming from “within the top ranks” of the Communist Party.
What happens if one of these three leaders becomes incapacitated by illness, or is overthrown in a coup? For Vlad, fingers are pointing at administration official Dmitry Kovalev, sure to be as humorless as his predecessor; for Xi, it would be some similarly faceless technocrat (or a general, if there’s a coup); for Joe, it would Kamala, almost as witless as POTUS himself.
This doesn’t take into account elections, of course, which could also alter the landscape. Xi next faces the National People’s Congress in November 2022, while Joe Biden, if he runs, faces an uphill prospect in 2024. Putin faces Russian voters in 2024, but if he’s still around, expect it to be a mere formality.
With three of our major world leaders battling age and illness, the world could be a very different place in the new few years.