By Allen Ai
In a rare appearance that has created more excitement on Sina Weibo than any other UFO sighting this year, former president Jiang Zemin (江泽民) attended the 100th anniversary celebrations of the Xinhai Revolution at the Great Hall of the People today. News of Jiang’s first public appearance since rumours of his death surfaced in July quickly trended on Sina Weibo before censors stepped in to remove the subject from the day’s trending topics.
At the ceremony which was telecast live by the state-owned China Central Television (CCTV), the 85-year-old Jiang sat between President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. He was unable to walk without the support of his attendants, but was able to stand without any help while the national anthem was being played (see video below).
Although Xinhua News Agency was quick to refute reports by Hong Kong broadcaster ATV that the former paramount leader had passed away, many among the general public had continued to doubt reports that Jiang was just recuperating at home or that the wreaths seen at former Shanghai mayor Han Zheyi’s funeral were really from him.
Just last week, Lily Sui-fong Sun, granddaughter of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, revered on both sides of the Taiwan Straits as the “Father of the Nation” and leader of the Xinhai Revolution which brought about the end of the Qing Dynasty, accused Jiang Zemin of distorting the legacy of her grandfather.
She revealed in an interview with Hong Kong daily Ming Pao that ten years ago, when the mainland was celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution, then-president Jiang Zemin claimed Dr Sun had promulgated the idea of a “New Three Principles of the People” which consisted of “Working with the Soviets, Working with the Communists, Helping the Farmers”.
Lily Sun said she voiced her displeasure in a private letter to Jiang Zemin in 2002. Jiang responded the following year, saying he would like to sponsor her Xinhai Revolution anniversary activities. A few years later, in 2008, Jiang reiterated his sponsorship offer, saying he was willing to offer US$10 million for her events, an offer she eventually refused.