Reports of Ex-China President’s Death ‘Rumor,’ Xinhua Says

Ex-China President Jiang Zemin Critically Ill
Hu Jintao, the president of China, left, shakes hands with Jiang Zemin, the country's former leader, as they attend a rally held to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Aug. 1, 2007. Photographer: Stephen Shaver/Bloomberg

Overseas media reports that former Chinese President Jiang Zemin died from illness are “pure rumor,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported today, citing “authoritative sources” it didn’t further identify.

The one-sentence English-language Xinhua report didn’t say what media issued the reports or give more information about Jiang. Hong Kong’s Asia Television Ltd. reported last night that Jiang had died, without saying where it got the information. The television station said it retracted its report and offered apologies to Jiang and his family in a statement issued today.

Jiang, China’s president from 1993 to 2003 and general secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002, was absent from last week’s 90th anniversary of the party, sparking speculation his health was failing. The 84-year-old is suffering from cancer, the Standard reported today, citing an unidentified person. Jiang has diabetes and may have died from a heart attack, the Oriental Daily reported, without citing anyone.

Lew Mon-hung, a Hong Kong representative to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said a Chinese “state-level” leader didn’t deny Jiang had died when asked, the Chinese-language Oriental Daily reported.

In China, online searches related to Jiang are being blocked, the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal both reported. The country’s Sina.com site didn’t respond to requests using Jiang’s name, the Washington Post said.

Searches on Sina using the Chinese character for “river,” which is what Jiang translates to, were also blocked, the Journal reported.

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