China mourns former leader Jiang Zemin with bouquets and black front pages

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Dec 1 (Reuters) – Chinese newspapers blacked out their front pages on Thursday and flags were flown at half-mast in mourning for the death of former President Jiang Zemin, as supporters filed piles of bouquets in front of her childhood home.

jiang deceased in his hometown of Shanghai just after noon on Wednesday from leukemia and multiple organ failure, 96 years old.

His death sparked a wave of nostalgia for the relatively more liberal times he oversaw.

A date has not yet been set for his funeral.

The front page of the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily devoted its entire front page to Jiang, and featured a large photo of him wearing his trademark “toad” glasses.

“Beloved comrade Jiang Zemin will never be forgotten,” it said in its headline, above an article reposting the official announcement of his death.

Flags flew at half mast over major government buildings and overseas Chinese embassies, while the homepages of e-commerce platforms Taobao and JD.com also turned black and white.

Mourners laid piles of bouquets of white chrysanthemums, a traditional Chinese symbol of mourning, outside Jiang’s childhood home in the eastern city of Yangzhou, a witness told Reuters, declining to be identified given the sensitivities to discuss anything political in China.

Some people knelt outside his house as a sign of respect, the person added.

“Grandpa Jiang, rest in peace,” read one bouquet.

In Shanghai, where Jiang died, police closed off the streets, but hundreds of people still tried to spot a vehicle believed to be carrying his body, according to footage shared on Chinese social media.

In one photo, people held up a black-and-white banner that read “Comrade Jiang Zemin, you will forever live in our hearts.”

FOREIGNERS NOT INVITED

But foreign governments, political parties and “friendly figures” will not be invited to send delegations or representatives to China to attend mourning activities, the official Xinhua news agency said.

At one of China’s largest foreign banks, employees were told to wear black in meetings with regulators, senior executives were asked not to be photographed at parties, and the bank suspended operations. marketing for 10 days, a senior executive at the lender told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Jiang’s death comes at a tumultuous time in China, where authorities are grappling with rare widespread street protests among residents fed up with tough COVID-19 restrictions nearly three years into the pandemic.

China is also locked in an increasingly aggressive standoff with the United States and its allies on everything from Chinese threats to democratically-ruled Taiwan to trade and human rights issues.

While Jiang could have a fierce temper, his jocular streak where he would sometimes sing for foreign dignitaries and joke around with them stands in stark contrast to his more rigid successor Hu Jintao and current President Xi Jinping.

“Having someone educated as a leader is really a good thing, RIP,” one user wrote on WeChat, adding a candle emoji.

Some Chinese social media users posted photos and videos of Jiang talking or laughing and articles about his 1997 speech at Harvard University in English, recalling a time when China and the West were on better terms.

Both the US and Japanese governments expressed their condolences.

U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said that during his two visits to the United States as president as well as multiple other meetings with U.S. officials, Jiang strived to advance ties “while managing our differences – an imperative that endures today”.

Even Taiwan, which Jiang threatened with war games ahead of the island’s first direct presidential election in 1996, said it sent “best wishes” to Jiang’s family, although he added that he “threatened the development of Taiwan’s democratic system and is changing with force”.

Reporting from Beijing and Shanghai newsrooms; Additional reporting by Engen Tham; Written by Yew Lun Tian and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Michael Perry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *