BEIJING — China's presumed next leader has made a public appearance for the first time in two weeks.

The official Xinhua News Agency says Vice President Xi Jinping arrived at China Agricultural University in Beijing on Saturday for activities marking National Science Popularization Day.

The brief Xinhua report does not address why Xi has not been seen publicly since Sept. 1. Since then, Xi canceled meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and foreign leaders.

His absence had fueled rumors of his health and raised questions about the stability of the Communist Party's succession process.

Xi is due to take over as the party leader later this year and as president next year as the country transitions to a new generation of leaders.

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  • The Closest Comrade

    Chairman Mao Zedong's "closest comrade in arms" and hand-picked successor, Lin Biao dropped from view in September 1971 amid the radical turmoil known as the Cultural Revolution. Turns out he had died. The government started telling ordinary Chinese about his death only two months later; some accounts say it was 10 months later. Lin's death remains shrouded in mystery. The official version says he and his family died in a plane crash in Mongolia attempting to flee to the Soviet Union after plotting to assassinate Mao and stage a coup. Other accounts say Mao's supporters did Lin in first.<br> <em>Caption: In this Jan. 27, 2010, file photo, Lin Biao, the second-in-charge after Chairman Mao Zedong, is shown in the right half of the unissued 1967 commemorative stamp for 40th anniversary of establishment of Jing Gangshan Revolutionary Base. (AP Photo)</em>

  • The Paramount Leader

    After authorizing the military crackdown that ended the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement with untold deaths, paramount leader Deng Xiaoping was shown on state television congratulating martial law troops on June 9. Then he stayed out of the public eye for more than three months. Deng, 85 at the time, had retired from most of his positions but was still regarded as the pre-eminent power in a divided party. His disappearance triggered reports he was ill or near death. He resurfaced in September looking tan and healthy as he met a Nobel Prize-winning Chinese American physicist. During his absence, he met in secret with an envoy sent by U.S. President George H. W. Bush to stabilize U.S.-China ties. Deng died in 1997.<br> <em>Caption: In this Oct. 13, 1988, file phto, Chinese senior leader Deng Xiaoping is seen in Beijing. </em> (AP Photo/File)

  • The Purged Reformer

    At the height of the student-led democracy movement in 1989, party chief Zhao Ziyang went to Tiananmen Square on May 19 and tearfully appealed to student hunger strikers to go home, saying "I came too late." The next day, the government declared martial law and Zhao disappeared. After the June 3-4 military crackdown on protesters, speculation was rife that Zhao had been stripped of power. His fate became known more than a month later, when the party fired him. Purged for supporting the demonstrations, Zhao lived in Beijing under house arrest until his death in 2005. He was occasionally spotted playing golf in the suburbs and touring the provinces, though state media never reported on him. <br><em>Caption: In this Jan. 11, 1984, file photo, China's Premier Zhao Ziyang smiles at a reception when he shakes hands with Vice President George Bush in Washington. (AP Photo)</em>

  • The Hardliner

    When Premier Li Peng suddenly canceled a meeting with the Philippine president in 1993, the excuse the government gave was that he had a cold. Over the next four months, Li made only two public appearances. At one of them he confessed to a "minor heart condition." When he resurfaced in August, it was on the front page of newspapers, standing in swim trunks with his hands on his hips. China scholars later wrote that Li had suffered a heart attack. Some accounts say it was preceded by scathing criticism from party elders. Li outlasted his rivals, clinging to power until 2003 after 16 years in the leadership. <br><em>Caption: In this March 5, 1996, file photo, Chinese Premier Li Peng delivers his work report at the opening session of the National Peoples Congress, the annual meeting of the legislature, in Beijing's Great Hall of the People. (AP Photo/Greg Baker, File)</em>

  • The Ally

    Vice Premier Huang Ju lectured Chinese bankers in early 2006 on the importance of government control over state banks. Then he dropped from sight. Nearly two months passed before a Chinese official said vaguely that Huang had been unwell and was convalescing in a hospital. Media were banned from reporting on his condition. Because of his illness, Huang, a key ally of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, had been expected to retire in the fall of 2007. He died four months earlier. The official announcement of his death gave no cause, though reports say he had pancreatic cancer. <br><em>Caption: In this March 17, 2003, file photo, new Chinese Vice Premier Huang Ju sits during a session of the National People's Congress. (AP Photo/Greg Baker, File)</em>

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