Beijing's 301 Military Hospital, where Xi Jinping and He Guoqiang are rumored to be receiving treatment following separate road incidents. (Internet photo)
Boxun, a Chinese-language citizen journalism website sourced by anonymous users that often makes claims that are difficult to prove, says that China's vice president, Xi Jinping, and central discipline commissioner He Guoqiang were injured in two separate road accidents on the evening of Sept. 4, sparking rumors of an assassination attempt potentially related to the disgraced politician Bo Xilai.
A so-called internal Beijing source claims that Xi, China's leader in waiting, was involved in a mysterious car crash last Tuesday night in the capital when his vehicle was sandwiched by two off-road Jeeps. The 59-year-old was said to have passed out during the collision and was rushed to the 301 Military Hospital with light injuries.
An hour later, the source says, He Guoqiang, the secretary of the party's Commission for Discipline Inspection, was involved in a separate road accident when a truck traveling at high speed struck his car from behind, causing it to flip. He was also taking to 301 Military Hospital and is said to be in a critical condition.
The source adds that party leaders held an emergency meeting where it was suspected that foul play may have been involved. According to evidence collected by the party, the culprit behind the plot is a military officer and a supporter of former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai, the source alleged. Bo, a former rising star in Chinese politics, has been under detention for unspecified "serious discipline violations" since March. His wife Gu Kailai was last month handed a suspended death sentence for murdering British business Neil Heywood, a crime some believe Bo may have tried to cover up.
The officer's motive for the hit on Xi and He was revenge for the way Bo has been treated by the party, the source said. The original assassination plot also involved President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, but their security detail was too heavy, the source added.
Two military officers have since been detained for questioning, the source claimed.
One high-ranking official suspected of being involved is Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, a known ally of Bo and the head of China's armed police. Zhou was said to have traveled to Anhui province shortly prior to the incidents without any official explanation, which some party leaders have suggested might have been an intentional tactic to avoid suspicion, the source said.
Boxun's article was removed entirely within two hours of being posted, although this did not stop the rumors from spreading like wildfire among China's conspiracy-loving netizens.
The Chinese government has so far not verified any of the rumors, which coincide with reports that Xi canceled his Wednesday meeting with US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and other foreign dignitaries due to a "back injury." International media outlets have treated this as a snub to Clinton after her talks with other Chinese leaders proved unproductive.
Neither Xi nor He have reportedly been seen in public since Tuesday, while Beijing's 301 Military Hospital is said to be heavily guarded, allegedly due to the presence of a high-profile patient.
Xi Jinping 習近平
He Guoqiang 賀國強
Bo Xilai 薄熙來
Gu Kailai 谷開來
Hu Jintao 胡錦濤
Wen Jiabao 溫家寶
Zhou Yongkang 周永康