Jia Qinglin joins growing parade of retired leaders
Jia Qinglin, formerly one of the highest-ranking members of the Politburo Standing Committee, made a rare public appearance last month in Hubei province inspecting factories of a domestic car maker, according to the website of Dongfeng Motor Corporation.
Jia, 74, who is also a former chairman of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee (CCPPC), visited the Xiangyang and Shiyan sites of the Wuhan-based manufacturer on March 27 and 28.
Jia was accompanied by Qian Yunlu, the former vice-chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, and several provincial-level officials from Hubei.
The news of Jia's visit was first published on Dongfeng's website on April 2. It remained largely unnoticed until Friday evening when it was picked up by major Chinese news portals.
Several former leaders made public appearances in recent days, intriguing the public who usually see very little of their retired leaders.
Former president Jiang Zemin, who has largely shunned the spotlight in recent years, made two appearances in public in the past week, in Yangzhou and Shanghai, according to images that were published online.
Hu Jintao, the most recent former president and Jiang's successor, also made a rare public showing this month at a university in Hunan .
Wang Zhaoguo, former member of the Politburo and vice-chairman of National People's Congress, visited the old residence of Zhou Enlai, the first premier of China, in Huaian, Jiangsu province on Tuesday with his wife, according to Chinese media reports. The visit happened amid rumours that Wang's son, Wang Xinliang, may have been involved in the graft-probe of former security tsar Zhou Yongkang according to overseas news sites.
Former ideology tsar Li Changchun visited the Shaolin Temple in Henan last Saturday, media reported.
Zhang Lifan, a political affairs commentator, said the appearance of retired former leaders showed the struggle among different party factions had intensified amid the current anti-graft campaign.
Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Renmin University in Beijing, said the former leaders were sending a message that they remained unaffected despite speculation that Xi's campaign was targeting former officials.
Additional reporting by Teddy Ng