BEIJING - China has issued the first comments attributed to president-in-waiting Xi Jinping since his disappearance from the public eye over 10 days ago ignited rumors over his health, but there was no public sighting or new photograph of him.

Xi, who has skipped meetings with visiting foreign leaders over the past week, was cited by state media late on Wednesday night as expressing condolences to the family of a veteran Communist Party official who died last week.

Beijing has still not issued a statement directly responding to the rumors over the 59-year-old's health, which have included a bad back, heart trouble, a stroke and a car-crash injury.

China experts doubt Xi is suffering more than a minor ailment - a version supported by sources close to the leadership - but Beijing's refusal to clarify the situation has begun to emerge as a talking point in global financial markets.

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