BEIJING, KOMPAS.com - China’s former president Jiang Zemin on Sunday attended celebrations commemorating a 1911 revolution that overthrew the emperor, in his first public appearance since rumours emerged that he had died.
Jiang, 85, was seen sitting with other top Communist Party officials at a ceremony hosted by current President Hu Jintao in Beijing and broadcast live on state television. He looked frail and was once shown nodding off. Rumours of Jiang’s death began circulating in July after he failed to appear at a meeting celebrating the party’s 90th birthday.
They gathered momemtum and culminated with Hong Kong and Japanese media saying his death had been confirmed. The state-run Xinhua news agency was eventually forced to publish a rare denial, quoting “authoritative sources” as saying the reports were “pure rumour”.
Speculation had already surfaced that Jiang, who reportedly still wields a great deal of power in the inner party sanctum, might be seriously ill. But the health condition of Chinese leaders is extremely sensitive as it is considered a state secret, apparently because of concerns that illness might affect the appearance of stability in the party.
The celebrations on Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew the Qing imperial dynasty and established the Republic of China. They took place at the Great Hall of the People.