Ex-China President Jiang Appears in Public After Death Report

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Former President Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin, former Chinese president, right, and current president Hu Jintao attend a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution in Beijing. Photographer: Minoru Iwasaki-Pool/Getty Images

Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin made a public appearance yesterday three months after Hong Kong media reported his death.

Jiang attended a ceremony at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution that was also attended by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. China Central Television carried a live broadcast of the event.

Jiang, 85, China’s president from 1993 to 2003 and general secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002, was absent from a 90th anniversary of the party in July, sparking speculation his health was failing.

Hong Kong’s Asia Television Ltd. reported July 6 that Jiang had died, without saying where it got the information. The television station the next day retracted its report and offered apologies to Jiang and his family.

Overseas media reports that Jiang died from illness were “pure rumor,” Xinhua said at the time. Jiang is suffering from cancer, the Standard reported July 7, citing an unidentified person. Jiang has diabetes and may have died from a heart attack, the Oriental Daily had reported, without citing anyone.

The party, scheduled to have a new leadership in 2012, last year named Xi Jinping, 58, to the highest military body, solidifying his status as the country’s leader-in-waiting to succeed Hu.

1911 Revolution

The 1911 Revolution, led by Sun Yat-sen, ended the last Chinese imperial dynasty and brought about the founding of the Republic of China in 1912.

The Republic of China’s government has been confined to Taiwan since Mao Zedong’s communists took over the mainland and established the People’s Republic of China in 1949, sparking decades of tension that began to ease when Ma Ying-jeou took office as Taiwan’s president in 2008 and made conciliatory overtures toward China.

Hu, speaking at yesterday’s ceremony, urged the mainland and Taiwan to work together to boost cross-strait relations and oppose “Taiwan independence.”

Rejuvenating China is the “cherished goal” pursued by Sun and other pioneers of the 1911 Revolution, and should be the “common aspiration of all compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits,” Xinhua cited Hu as saying.

— With assistance by John Brinsley

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