Former president Jiang Zemin (above) returned to the limelight yesterday - four years after he relinquished hold of his last official title - as the Communist Party threw a huge gathering to cheer its own success. Mr Jiang, who had a reputation as a political showman, basked in a moment of glory when President Hu Jintao called on a full house at the Great Hall of the People to salute 'the third-generation leadership'. Mr Jiang has kept a low public profile since stepping down as military chief in 2004, although he has occasionally been seen performing Peking Opera at the new National Grand Theatre. But yesterday was a big day for the former leader. After heaping praise on each generation of his predecessors, Mr Hu said: 'The party, the country and the people of all races are going to remember the great historical achievements of the leaders of the third generation of the party.' He then turned to bow to them. Upon hearing the remark, Mr Jiang stopped reading the script of Mr Hu's speech and promptly stood up, clapping to initiate a round of applause. Nudged by an apparently enthusiastic Mr Jiang, his former colleagues in the Politburo Standing Committee - including former National People's Congress chairman Li Peng and former premier Zhu Rongji - rose one after another to receive the honour. Time seemed to have eroded an old rivalry as Mr Jiang waved and signalled top political adviser Li Ruihuan to stand up as well. Mr Jiang and Mr Li were well-known rivals who jockeyed to be Deng Xiaoping's successor. Mr Jiang and Mr Hu were seen having a long, animated conversation at the event. It was controversial premier Li Peng's second public appearance after he disappeared for months amid rumours of ill health before reappearing in public in September. It was also a rare public appearance for Mr Zhu, who has kept out of all public activities since retiring.