State Chinese media emphasized Jiang Zemin’s credentials as a “revolutionary” Marxist as the state memorial to the former leader began and official organs struck a delicate balance of remembering one of the country’s most powerful individuals at a memorial service.
“Comrade Jiang Zemin was an outstanding leader…he was a great Marxist, proletarian revolutionary, politician, military man, diplomat, and an experienced communist soldier,” read a front-page editorial Tuesday in the People’s Daily, the party’s official mouthpiece.
China faces the delicate task of honoring Jiang without seeming contradictory to incumbent President Xi Jinping, who has steadily centralized power, including by securing an unprecedented third term in office in October.
“The party, the army and the people … feel boundless regret … We love and appreciate Comrade Jiang for giving his life and soul to the Chinese people,” Xi said at a memorial service on Tuesday.
Jiang’s body was cremated at the Babushan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing on Monday, after it was transported from Shanghai. 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 ceremony live from the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and three minutes of silence, announced in some cities, including Shanghai where Jiang was party secretary, to the sound of sirens.
The memorial proceedings also marked the appearance of Hu Jintao, Xi’s predecessor as leader, who led informally from the Great Hall of the People in front of Party members and the world’s media at the Chinese Party Congress in October. Hu Jintao’s dismissal sparked speculation that he had been purged from the party.