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Muscatine connection with missing Chinese leader Xi Jinping

There’s an international mystery with Muscatine connections. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping hasn’t been seen in public since September 1. That...

There's an international mystery with Muscatine connections. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping hasn't been seen in public since September 1.

That's prompting concern over his health and political future.

Xi is off the radar and out of sight.

"They control everything," said Dick Maeglin.

The heir apparent to Communist leadership and Chinese presidency has been out of public view for 11 days. He's missed diplomatic meetings and other events.

"My concern would be for his personal safety," Maeglin said.

Muscatine's Maeglin has a personal connection. He joined a delegation of old friends from Muscatine. They recently spent a week in China with Xi and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.

"Did he stub his toe, or was he connected in some fashion with some evil or sinister thing?" Maeglin asked. "I don't know."

Their friendship dates back to 1985. That's when Xi spent time in their home. It's a remarkable bond that connects cultures and spans decades.

"He's really good," Maeglin said. "You'd want to trust your kids with him for a babysitter or your mother to be cared for."

In Muscatine, Xi's disappearance is generating plenty of discussion. He may have been hospitalized for some illness. Other speculation ranges from a sports injury to a car accident.

Xi looked fit and friendly during a February trip to Muscatine. That's where he renewed friendships with Maeglin and others from 27 years ago.

Muscatine Mayor DeWayne Hopkins is making plans to form a sister city with Xi's hometown. Hopkins plans a trip to China in early November.

"I'm fairly confident that he's just taking some time off before this big challenge that's lying in front of him," Hopkins said.

Since Chinese government remains tight-lipped about health issues, the Muscatine delegation will have to wait for answers.

"There very well may be another person there waiting for him to make some little mistake that's awkward enough for him, and they push him out," Maeglin concluded.

It's a mystery reaching from Muscatine to China. Old friends from Iowa are just hoping for the best.

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