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Jiang Zemin's little hints ahead of leadership change

Publication Date : 17-05-2012


Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin has not appeared in public since last October, but he has found creative ways to remind the world that he still plans to have a say in China's leadership reshuffle later this year.

Despite continued murmurings of his ill health, the 85-year-old penned a large piece of calligraphy for the name of the new Yangzhou Taizhou Airport, which was unveiled when the airport opened last week. It sits atop the airport roof.

A smaller version is displayed in the terminal, which is in the hometown of the former strongman who took charge of China for 13 years from 1989. He did not appear at the opening of the airport.

The calligraphy came after news leaked online that he had met Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz in Beijing on April 17.

A photograph of the meeting, which showed a dapper and healthy Jiang in a suit and red tie, has since been posted online.

That is not all. In February, China Central Television reported that foreign language versions of the second volume of the "Selected Works Of Jiang Zemin" had been published.

These subtle hints have strong political significance, especially after rampant rumours last summer that Jiang had died.

They are also important in the light of the purge of former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai, a known ally of Jiang, and the upcoming leadership change, say observers.

It is a reminder to his successor Hu Jintao and other key Communist Party players that he remains part of the equation for the 18th Party Congress where the leadership transition will take place, said Hong Kong-based analyst Willy Lam, who wrote a biography of Jiang.


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