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Speculations Rise As Chinese President Coughs Throughout His Speech Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been caught coughing his way through a speech to his cronies, sparking speculation about his health.

The Communist leader could be heard coughing repeatedly during the final ten minutes of a speech in Shenzhen, close to Hong Kong, on Wednesday. 

State TV repeatedly cut away from Xi during the bouts of coughing, but caught the moment he lifted his hand to his mouth.

Audio also caught the President spluttering and sipping from a glass of water in order to clear his throat.

The footage was seized upon by Xi's critics, particularly those in Hong Kong, who speculated about his health amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Apple TV, a pro-Hong Kong, anti-Communist party outlet, and Taiwanese TV stations, both ran the footage, noting that Xi 'coughed repeatedly'.

Apple TV also suggested that Xi subsequently cut his trip short and returned to Beijing, though MailOnline was unable to verify this. 

Meanwhile the Epoch Times, which is linked to the heavily-persecuted Falun Gong religious group, openly questioned whether Xi has the virus.

His visit to Shenzen came amid a tour of southern China, where he has been pictured meeting crowds without a mask, though always from a distance. 

China officially reports around a dozen cases of the virus per day, and while those numbers are subject to doubt, the country's rebounding economy suggests the virus is far from rampant.

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