Likely Next Chinese Leader Absent From Media

Has not been seen in public since September 1


Beijing (CNN) — The conspicuous absence from public view of China's presumptive next top leader is adding new uncertainty to the succession plan for the normally secretive Communist leadership.

Vice President Xi Jinping has puzzlingly dropped off the domestic news media radar since September 1. Xi is widely expected to succeed President Hu Jintao as the head of the ruling Communist Party next month before assuming the presidency early next year in a once-in-a-decade power transition.