Former president Jiang Zemin was back in the limelight again yesterday - this time having his musical talent praised in an article by former vice-premier Li Lanqing in the party-run People's Daily.
Li lauded the 86-year-old Jiang's ability to remember the melody and lyrics of songs they sang in their youth, more than six decades ago. The newspaper also published a letter from Jiang to Li, whom Jiang asked to verify the melody of one old song, Moonlight and Shadows, in February.
The story, which comes just over a week before the once-in-a-decade power change at the Communist Party's 18th national congress, was seen as another indication of Jiang's effort to assert his influence. It is at least the fifth high-profile media foray by Jiang since late September.
Meanwhile, the Jilin Daily, the mouthpiece of the Jilin provincial party committee, reported yesterday that former premier Li Peng , 84, had written a letter welcoming the start of construction work on a hydroelectric power station in Jilin city on Monday.
Political analyst Dr James Sung Lap-kung, of City University, said many more former political heavyweights, including Jiang, Li and former premier Zhu Rongji , were showing up before the 18th party congress than did before the 16th and 17th congresses.
"As the meeting will see a major power transition among the party elite, veterans from various political factions, such as the princelings, Communist Youth League, Shanghai gang and the military, may make use of this or that chance to flex their political muscle and remind both top-ranking officials and the general public that they are still playing a role in the upcoming successions," Sung said.
Jiang retired from his last official position, as chairman of the Central Military Commission, in 2005. Li Peng stepped down as chairman of the National People's Congress in 2003.