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Geopolitics

Speculation Runs Rampant After China's Heir Apparent Goes MIA

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, RADIO AUSTRALIA (Australia), CNN, WALL STREET JOURNAL (USA), REUTERS

Worldcrunch

BEIJING - Xi Jinping, the 58-year-old Chinese Vice President, widely expected to be the next leader of the People's Republic of China, has not been seen in public since September 1.

Several meetings planned with foreign leaders have been canceled, reports Reuters in Beijing, including one with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and another with the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong.

No explanation for these cancelations has been given, according to Radio Australia. Xi is expected to be appointed China’s new leader at the Communist party Congress next month, before assuming the presidency early next year in a once-in-a-decade power transition.

Xi remains nowhere to be seen, which has fueled rumors and gossip. Despite the Chinese censors' best efforts to ban discussion on the subject, theories have proliferated on China's ever active social networks, with wild plot lines ranging from a car crash to an assassination attempt, reports CNN.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has refused to answer any questions about Xi but sources close to the leadership said on Tuesday that he has hurt his back swimming. Another source close to Xi said: “He’s unwell, but it’s not a big problem.”

When asked in a press conference if Xi was dead, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei answered, "I hope you have serious questions to ask."

China's official silence on the absence of the Vice President is in line with past policy, but because of recent scandals involving high-level officials and their families, China-watchers are on the alert for anything out of the ordinary involving them. Just last week, for example, it was confirmed that web rumors about the Ferrari crash of the son of a top political adviser in March were in fact true: the son of President Hu Jintao’s chief political fixer, Ling Jihua was killed in a high-speed Ferrari accident reportedly involving two naked women, writes the Sydney Morning Herald.

As it is often the case with China’s top leaders, Chinese and English language searches for Mr Xi’s full name and surname were blocked on Weibo on Monday. But searches for “Jinping” weren't blocked in Chinese, though periodic searches using those characters produced fewer results each time, suggesting censors were busy deleting posts about Mr Xi, says the Wall Street Journal.

In my hotel room Chinese censors blocked BBC just as they began to cover the missing Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping.

— Scott Gilmore (@Scott_Gilmore) September 11, 2012

Posted link to WSJ story about Xi Jinping on Weibo. Blocked from public view within 10 minutes.

— Josh Chin (@joshchin) September 11, 2012

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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