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Posts Tagged ‘Xinhua News Agency’

TV report of China leader’s death fuels political rumor mill

Posted by Admin on July 8, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/tv-report-china-leaders-death-fuels-political-rumor-092510202.html

By Benjamin Lim and Sui-Lee Wee | Reuters – 23 hrs ago

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese state media denied rum ours on Thursday that former president Jiang Zemin had died after a Hong Kong television station said he had, sparking a wave of speculation about a leadership transition due next year.

“Recent reports of some overseas media organizations about Jiang Zemin’s death from illness are pure rumor,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted “authoritative sources” as saying.

Jiang, 84, is in poor health. Three sources with ties to China’s leadership told Reuters that he is in intensive care in Beijing at the No. 301 military hospital after suffering a heart attack.

In the opaque world of Chinese politics, the health of a leader is fodder for rumors about how the balance of power is shifting at the highest levels of the government.

Current President Hu Jintao retires from office from late next year in a sweeping leadership overhaul, and the rumors about Jiang’s health underscore the uncertainties around this.

Hong Kong’s Asia Television interrupted its main newscast on Wednesday evening to announce solemnly that Jiang had died, and followed with a brief profile. It kept up the news for several hours on a ticker and then said it would air a special report on Jiang’s life late in the evening.

It later canceled the report, and withdrew the ticker after failing to get official confirmation.

On Thursday afternoon, the television station issued a statement to apologize to its audience and Jiang’s family.

“Asia Television has taken note of this afternoon’s report from Xinhua and has withdrawn last night’s report about Mr. Jiang Zemin’s death and would like to apologize to our audience and Mr. Jiang Zemin’s family,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Shandong News website (www.sdnews.com.cn) in northeast China posted a black banner with white characters, saying “Our Respectable Comrade Jiang Zemin Is Immortal.” The site was no longer accessible on Thursday.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei deflected numerous questions about Jiang at a regular news briefing, saying Xinhua had already made a full explanation and that he had nothing further to add.

Searches on a popular Chinese micro-blogging site with terms ranging from “Jiang Zemin” to the Yangtze River (Jiang’s surname means “river”), are blocked, a sign that China’s censors are concerned about public debate about his health.

Premature reports about the demise of Chinese leaders are hardly new. In the 1990s, Hong Kong and Japanese media reported several times that paramount leader Deng Xiaoping had died.

UNCERTAINTY FOR JIANG ALLIES

Jiang Zemin’s passing — on the surface at least — would likely have limited impact on the direction of China’s politics and economic development.

He retired long ago, handing over the Communist Party’s top job to Hu in 2002 and his other posts over the next two years. Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao have since led the country on a decade-long charge that saw it grow from an economy the size of Britain to one that has surpassed Japan.

But the prospect of Jiang’s passing would add a breeze of uncertainty to a transition that is widely thought to hand power from Hu to a new generation led by Xi Jinping, currently vice president. That would take place at the 18th Communist Party Congress expected sometime in the autumn of 2012.

Xi, anointed as Hu’s heir apparent at the congress in 2007, was considered acceptable to both the Hu and Jiang camps.

But in China, the death of a senior leader can be cause for worry, and even spell disaster, for proteges and allies who are no longer protected.

Hu would no longer have Jiang acting as a counterweight to his influence over the future make up of the next leadership.

“New leaders are selected by old leaders,” Zheng Yongnian, professor of Chinese politics at the National University of Singapore. “He’s one of the important selectorate. After he passes away, other current leaders will become more influential.”

He could also settle scores or take down other rivals with links to Jiang, if necessary.

Past leaders can have considerable clout in China. Deng wielded power as paramount leader despite having given up all his posts except the honorary chairman of the Chinese bridge association.

Jiang consolidated his own grip on power after Deng died in 1997. By the time Jiang retired his last post — as head of the military commission — in 2004, he had already stacked the Politburo with his people.

“Front and back, left and right, up and down. No matter where Hu looks, there is a Jiang man,” said one source at the time the leadership line-up was announced back in 2002.

In Jiang’s case, there are quite a few allies still in place in the leadership who might now have cause for concern, should Hu assert himself.

“If he dies, the situation becomes very delicate,” said one source with ties to leadership circles who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the subject.

Among the Jiang allies still in senior posts are: Wu Bangguo, parliament chief and the second ranking person in the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee; Jia Qinglin, who heads a parliamentary advisory body and is ranked fourth; and Li Changchun, who oversees propaganda and ideology and is ranked fifth.

How exactly it will play it out, is unclear. With the Party Congress only about 15 months away, Hu’s window to further consolidate his grip on power is considerably shorter than Jiang had as he prepared to step down.

(Writing by Brian Rhoads; Additional reporting by Alison Leung in HONG KONG and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING,; Editing by Don Durfee and John Chalmers)

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China dismisses U.S. call on Tiananmen anniversary

Posted by Admin on June 5, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110604/wl_nm/us_china_tiananmen

People walk past a replica of the Goddess of ...
 People walk past a replica of the Goddess of Democracy as they enter Hong Kong‘s Victoria Park
By Ben Blanchard and James Pomfret 1 hr 33 mins ago

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China dismissed a U.S. call for it to free dissidents and fully account for the victims of the bloody Tiananmen crackdown, on the anniversary of the crushing of the pro-democracy uprising 22 years ago.

The date on which troops shot their way into central Beijing in 1989, killing hundreds, was not publicly marked in mainland China. The democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and elsewhere remain taboo for the ruling Communist Party, especially this year after calls for an Arab-style “jasmine revolution.”

In Hong Kong, tens of thousands lit candles, held jasmine flowers and chanted for a fully democratic China in a night vigil to mark the anniversary and condemn Beijing’s human rights abuses and curbs on freedoms.

The State Department said China must release all those still jailed for their participation in the 1989 protests.

“We ask the Chinese government to provide the fullest possible public accounting of those killed, detained or missing,” deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.

At least five people remain in jail for taking part in the protests.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, in a statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency, said the U.S. comments “groundlessly accused the Chinese government.”

“We urge the U.S. side to abandon its political bias and rectify wrong practices to avoid disturbing China-U.S. relations.”

The president of democratic Taiwan, the island China claims as its own and has never renounced the use of force to recover, said Beijing should follow Taipei’s example and reform politically.

“We urgently hope the mainland Chinese authorities will have the courage to undertake political reforms and promote the development of freedom, democracy, human rights, and rule of law,” President Ma Ying-jeou said in a statement.

On Saturday, Tiananmen Square was packed with tourists as normal, with no obvious signs of extra security.

“I didn’t agree with the method of the protest, making a disturbance on the square,” said a 60-year-old Beijing resident who gave her family name as Chen. “But I think there should be a way for people to express what’s on their mind.”

“VOICE FOR CHINA”

In a Hong Kong park however, some 150,000 people made a plea for Beijing to atone for the June 4 crackdown, an event given added poignancy this year by a heavy clampdown on dissent.

“We want to express that we’ve never given up,” said Andy Wong, who was at the vigil with his wife and two kids. “When there’s a big turnout it shows that we (Hong Kong) still care.”

Hong Kong, a former British colony handed back to China in 1997 with a promise of a high degree of autonomy, has remained a beacon for the overseas Chinese pro-democracy movement.

“Hong Kong is now playing a more important role when the whole of China is silenced,” said Lee Cheuk-yan, a pro-democracy lawmaker and one of the organizers. “We are the voice for China and we’ll spread the message for democracy,”

Dissidents in China, meanwhile, said controls over them had been strengthened.

“I can’t come out today. I’ve been kept at home. But I’ll be fasting for the day, like I do every June 4 anniversary,” said Zhou Duo.

Zhou was one of four activists who negotiated with troops to evacuate Tiananmen Square of student-protesters in 1989, avoiding much bloodshed on the square itself on June 4. He was later jailed for his role in the protests.

“Of course, sooner or later June 4 will be reassessed and rehabilitated. That’s inevitable. History can never be completely erased.”

Zhang Xianling, who lost her son in the Tiananmen protests, said she had been allowed out to visit her son’s grave, but was being followed and was not allowed to go as part of a group with other bereaved parents, as she has done in the past.

“It shows that even after all these years, China is still limiting human rights,” Zhang said.

After the crackdown, the government called the movement a “counter-revolutionary plot,” but has more recently referred to it as a “political disturbance.”

Recent unrest in Inner Mongolia and explosions in two provinces sparked by social grievances have also ruffled authorities as the leadership prepares to hand over power to a new generation at a Party Congress next year.

(Additional reporting by Chris Buckley, Ken Wills and K.J. Kwon in Beijing, Paul Eckert in Washington, James Pomfret, Xavier Ng and Justina Lee in Hong Kong, and Jonathan Standing in Taipei; editing by Robert Birsel and Andrew Roche)

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