Former president Jiang Zemin is back in the limelight after creating high-profile calligraphy for an airport in his hometown, a gesture one analyst said shows he is still capable of wielding some influence in the leadership reshuffling later this year.
Jiang (pictured) drew the six-character name for the Yangzhou Taizhou Airport, which opened on Tuesday, and large red characters transposed from his writing now sit atop the airport roof.
Another, smaller version of his work was copied in golden lettering on a red wall that will be on display at the airport in Yangzhou, Jiangsu, where the 85-year-old former leader was born, the Jiangsu-based Xinhua Daily reported.
Hong Kong-based political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said the report was aimed at showing conclusively that Jiang remains in good health and still wields power ahead of the 18th party congress this autumn.
'Jiang has made some public appearances before party congresses since his retirement [in 2004],' Lau said, noting, for example, that Jiang published a series of his own writings ahead of the 17th party congress in 2007. 'He wants to tell the world he is still capable of have some influence on the leadership transition ... despite rumours [of his poor health].'
Xinhua Daily cited Zhang Aijun, a deputy mayor of Yangzhou, as saying Jiang did the calligraphy on March 2, the opening date of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Jiang failed to attend the annual meetings of both the CPPCC and National People's Congress (NPC) that month,
Neither did he show up to this week's opening of the airport.
Jiang has now appeared prominently three times in local and foreign media reports in the past three weeks. On Monday, a Bloomberg reporter posted a picture on his Twitter account of the former leader meeting with Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz in Beijing, 20 days after the news agency reported Jiang had met with Schultz on April 17.
Jiang's last high-profile public appearance was when he attended ceremonies in Beijing in October to mark the centenary of the 1911 revolution. In late February, ahead of the NPC and CPPCC sessions in March, CCTV reported that A Chronicle of Jiang Zemin's Thoughts (1989-2008) had been published.