Chinese pesident-in-waiting Xi Jinping has not been seen in public for over a week, raising speculation on his absence ahead of the country’s once-in-a-decade leadership transition, the Financial Times reports.

The country’s vice president reportedly cancelled at least four scheduled meetings with visiting foreign officials from Russia, Singapore’s prime minister, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the prime minister of Denmark. The foreign ministry denied that a meeting between Mr. Xi and Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt was ever to take place on the day it was supposedly scheduled. A ministry spokesman refused to comment on allegations that Mr. Xi had suffered a back injury, saying “We have told everybody everything.”

The tight-lipped government stoked public speculation on Mr. Xi’s mysterious absence and underlined the of transparency of the authoritarian one-party political system. David Zweig, a professor specialising in Chinese politics at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, told the FT that the public has little idea how the country will choose its next leader, who will take a “significant position in world politics” and underscored China’s stance on presenting an “image of a strong healthy leader”.