Jiang Zemin

Fit to print: Jiang Zemin finds a new lease of life

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 December, 2011, 12:00am


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Ex-president Jiang Zemin, 85, is on a mission to improve the foreign language skills of the country's cadres - showing just how wildly exaggerated were the recent rumours of his death.

Xinhua yesterday released a preface written by Jiang (pictured) for a book titled Leading Cadres Must Make an Effort to Learn Foreign Languages, in which he calls on them to learn languages so they can communicate with foreigners and give the world more understanding of China.

The preface is dated September 28 - almost three months after rumours raged that he was terminally ill, culminating in an erroneous report by Hong Kong's ATV that he was dead.

Jiang said: 'This time I have invited cadre [and former vice-premier] Zeng Peiyan to write some material with basic information about our country. Cadres from the Foreign Ministry then put the material into different categories and compiled a foreign language textbook.'

Jiang can claim some mastery of foreign languages - in 2000 he gave a speech in English at Harvard University and spoke in English and Russian on overseas trips while in office.

Publishing articles and books is traditionally a way to let the public know a retired leader is still healthy or wields influence.

Rumours of Jiang's decline began after he missed a high-profile event in July marking the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party. Speculation was quashed when he appeared on October 10 to mark the centenary of the 1911 revolution.