Hu Jintao: China's former leader unexpectedly escorted away as Xi Jinping holds party congress

Watch as China's former leader Hu Jintao is helped off stage behind President Xi Jinping

Former Chinese President Hu Jintao has been filmed being escorted off the stage during the closing session of a week-long party congress in Beijing on Saturday.

The 79-year-old looked slightly disoriented as two assistants led him away a little more than two hours into the 3.5-hour meeting without explanation, sparking speculation about his health.

Hu was seen appearing to speak briefly to his successor, President Xi Jinping, whom he had been sitting next to in the front row, before being helped away by an assistant holding him by the arm.

There was no official comment about the reason for Hu being helped off the stage.

China’s ruling Communist Party reaffirmed Xi's continued dominance in running the nation on Saturday.

Xi Jinping at left looks on as former Chinese President Hu Jintao is assisted to leave the hall. Credit: AP

The confirmation came a day ahead of giving Xi a widely expected third five-year term as leader.

A party congress effectively removed four of the seven members of senior leadership.

One of those removed was Premier Li Keqiang, the nation’s number-two official and a proponent of market-oriented reforms.

The weeklong congress also wrote Xi's major policy initiatives on the economy and the military into the party’s constitution, as well as his push to rebuild and strengthen the party.

If Li had remained in leadership, it would have indicated some possible pushback against Xi, particularly on economic policy.

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