Xinhua chief Jiang Enzhu sought yesterday to dispel speculation that he was ill. Speaking at two National Day receptions, the New China News Agency director said his health was extremely good. 'Do you think I am ill?' Mr Jiang said when he was asked if he had heart disease. Mr Jiang, 60, said he was used to doing exercises, particularly tai chi. The Xinhua chief, also a National People's Congress (NPC) local deputy, had missed several deputies' meetings and some public functions. Mr Jiang said the NPC Standing Committee would soon announce how the seat vacated by the late deputy Liu Lit-for would be filled. Liu died early this year from a heart attack when he was on holiday in Thailand. Mr Jiang did not say if Chinese University medical professor Leung Ping-chung, who secured the largest number of votes among the losers in the selection, would replace Liu. The new set of guidelines governing the duties and privileges of the deputies would also be finished soon, he said. Xinhua's Hong Kong office has to cut costs in view of the recession, Mr Jiang said. But his deputy, Zheng Guoxiong, said there would be no lay-offs. Mr Jiang said mainland-funded bodies had scaled down their National Day celebrations this year.