Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping will likely visit Japan in the fall or later this year instead of the first half, sources said Saturday.
The delay suggests Beijing wants to see if the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, led by unpopular Prime Minister Taro Aso, can hold on to power by winning the general election that must be held by the fall.
The Chinese government, however, still plans to dispatch 55-year-old Xi, who is sixth in the Chinese Communist Party hierarchy, to Japan by the end of the year as part of high-level exchanges with Japan.
Xi is one of the few Chinese leaders capable of succeeding Chinese President Hu Jintao, observers say.
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