Chinese state media emphasized Jiang Zemin’s credentials as a Marxist “revolutionary”, a memorial to the former leader was unveiled and official organs struck a delicate balance in commemorating one of the country’s most powerful figures in a memorial service.
“Comrade Jiang Zemin is an outstanding leader … he is an outstanding Marxist, proletarian revolutionary, statesman, military man, diplomat and well-tested communist soldier,” read a front-page editorial in the People’s Daily, the party’s official mouthpiece, on Tuesday.
China faces a delicate task in honoring Jiang without drawing too obvious a contrast with incumbent President Xi Jinping, who has steadily centralized power, including securing an unprecedented third term in October.
“The party, the army and the people… feel infinite sorrow… We love and respect Comrade Jiang because he gave his life and spirit for the Chinese people,” Xi said at a memorial service on Tuesday.
Jiang’s body was flown from Shanghai and cremated at Beijing’s Baoshan Revolutionary Cemetery on Monday. Xi and other senior leaders paid their last respects to Jiang at a ceremony that day.
On Tuesday, China honored the former leader with a memorial service broadcast live from the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and three minutes of silence, heralded by the blare of sirens in some cities, including Shanghai, where Jiang was party secretary.
The commemorations were also notable for the appearance at China’s Party Congress in October of former leader Hu Jintao, who was unceremoniously expelled from the People’s Congress in front of party members and the world’s media. Hu’s dismissal sparked speculation that he was being kicked out of the party.