China's former leader Hu Jintao was "not feeling well" when he was unexpectedly removed from the closing ceremony of the Communist Party Congress, state media claimed.

"Xinhuanet reporter Liu Jiawen has learned that Hu Jintao insisted on attending the closing session ... despite the fact that he has been taking time to recuperate recently," Xinhua said on Twitter.

"When he was not feeling well during the session, his staff, for his health, accompanied him to a room next to the meeting venue for a rest.

"Now, he is much better."

The dramatic moment disrupted the highly choreographed event at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

Mr Hu's departure was initially left unexplained and the nation's censors appeared to quickly scrub any recent references to him from the internet.

The frail-looking 79-year-old seemed reluctant to leave the front row of proceedings, where he was sitting next to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

A steward attempted to take a sitting Mr Hu by the arm before being shaken off.

The steward then attempted to lift him up with both hands from under the armpits.

After an exchange of about a minute, in which Mr Hu spoke briefly with Mr Xi and Premier Li Keqiang, he was led out of the hall.

A seated Mr Xi was filmed holding papers down on the desk as Mr Hu tried to grab them.

Mr Hu patted Mr Li's shoulder as he left, as most of his colleagues stared firmly ahead.

The week-long Congress occurred mostly behind closed doors, but Mr Hu's departure occurred shortly after journalists were allowed in to cover the closing ceremony.

Authorities offered no explanation for Mr Hu's exit, which came just before the 2,300 delegates at the Congress voted unanimously to endorse Mr Xi's "core" leadership position.

Search results for "Hu Jintao" on the Twitter-like Weibo platform appeared to be heavily censored, with the most recent result dated Friday and posts limited to those of official accounts.

Since taking over from Mr Hu a decade ago, Mr Xi has become China's most authoritarian leader since Mao Zedong.

Mr Xi has crushed opposition to his rule inside the party, with many of his rivals jailed on corruption charges, and he has shown no tolerance for any form of public dissent.

Xi appoints new allies

China's Communist Party endorsed Mr Xi's "core position" in the country's leadership, all but assuring he will be handed an unprecedented third term in power.

China's ruling party approved a sweeping reshuffle that saw a number of top officials, including Mr Li, step down, allowing Mr Xi to appoint new allies.

Delegates approved a call obliging all party members to "uphold Comrade Xi Jinping's core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole", according to a unanimously passed resolution on changes to the party charter.

Mr Xi is now all but certain to be announced as general secretary tomorrow, shortly after the first meeting of the new Central Committee.

Mr Xi is now all but certain to be unveiled as general secretary tomorrow

This will allow him to sail through to a third term as China's president, due to be announced during the government's annual legislative sessions in March.

A new central committee of around 200 senior party officials was elected shortly after before the closing ceremony.

A list of officials of the newly elected group revealed that four out of seven members of the Party's Standing Committee - the apex of power - would retire.

Among them was Mr Li, as well as fellow Politburo Standing Committee members Wang Yang, who was touted as a possible successor to Mr Li, Han Zheng, and Li Zhanshu.

Mr Han and Mr Zhanshu were widely expected to step down, having surpassed the informal age limit of 68 for Politburo-level officials - a requirement not extended to 69-year-old Mr Xi.

Mr Wang and Li Keqiang, both 67, could still have continued in the Standing Committee or 25-member Politburo for another five-year term.

Other high-profile Communist Party top brass absent from the new Central Committee include high-ranking diplomat Yang Jiechi and economic tsar Liu He.

Analysts were closely watching for whether the charter would be amended to enshrine "Xi Jinping Thought" as a guiding philosophy, a move that would put Mr Xi on a par with Mao Zedong.

That did not take place, though the resolution did call the creed "the Marxism of contemporary China and of the 21st century", adding that it "embodies the best Chinese culture and ethos of this era".

Mr Xi previously abolished the presidential two-term limit in 2018, paving the way for him to rule indefinitely. The Congress effectively cemented Mr Xi's position as China's most powerful leader since Mr Mao.

"Xi's power will be akin to that of the dictator of China, and there will be next to no scope for anyone to advise him to attempt course correction," said Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London.

Delegates also enshrined into the party's constitution opposition to Taiwanese independence. The party had always pledged to retake the self-ruled democratic island, by force if necessary.