State media bid to end rumours of Jiang's death
Amid internet talk that former president Jiang Zemin had died, state media published an article on Sunday in an apparent move to dispel the rumours.
The semi-official China News Service reported that a newly published book - in commemoration of a Soviet engineer who came to China in 1954 to help build a car factory - was launched at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. Jiang, 84, wrote the book's preface and gave it its title, it said.
'Whether in his homeland or on the soil of China, he always worked hard in an ordinary position and achieved extraordinary results,' wrote Soviet-trained Jiang, extolling the Soviet expert's selfless Communist spirit.
Jiang has a poor image among the Chinese public. As a former leader who helped steer China towards capitalist-style economic reforms, he is widely blamed for the yawning rich-poor gap and widespread corruption in the country.
In the wake of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement, he replaced Zhao Ziyang, who was purged for his sympathetic stance towards the student protesters, as general secretary of the Communist Party.
There have been numerous rumours circulating on the internet during past months about his purported death, or talk that he was terminally ill in hospital.
Jiang was seen in public in April touring the World Expo site in Shanghai ahead of its opening, but has been rarely seen since.
'If Jiang dies, people across the country would rejoice!' said one posting on the internet.
Political commentator Jin Zhong said if Jiang had died, the central government would have released the news in a timely manner, as it would normally do for top leaders.
'They might hide news of illnesses, but if it's death, they would announce the news within a day,' Jin said. 'There is no point in keeping it secret.'