Rumors of Jiang Zemin’s Death Circulate Online; Censors Respond (Updated)

After former President Jiang Zemin was a no-show at the CCP’s 90th anniversary celebrations, rumors surfaced and began circulating online that he had died. From Time Magazine: Is he or isn’t he? Around 11 pm on July 5, China’s blogosphere began trading in rumors that Jiang Zemin, the former leader of the People’s Republic, had died. By midnight local searches on this topic had become very popular. But within half an hour, the heavy hand of China’s censors descended. Chinese language searches for words relating to death, even without being paired with Jiang’s name, returned the Orwellian message: “According to relevant policies and laws, the search results are not shown below.” So is Jiang dead? And the Wall Street Journal blog reports that searches for “river,” Jiang’ surname, are coming up empty on Sina Weibo microblogging service: Searches for the Yangtze’s Chinese name – Chang Jiang (长江)—on’s Weibo microblogging platform came up empty on Wednesday, as did searches for a number of other Chinese rivers, yielding instead the service’s standard censorship notice: “According to the relevant laws, regulations and policies, the results of this search cannot be displayed.” Why the sudden aversion to flowing bodies of water? The likeliest explanation is a torrent of rumors circulating online since Tuesday that former president Jiang Zemin is either gravely ill or has already died. Mr. Jiang’s surname means “river.” See also a report from Global Post. Update: From the New York Times: Not surprisingly, the stepped-up effort to silence speculation about the well being of Mr. Jiang, 84, who officially retired as party chief in 2002 and as military chief in 2004, has generated even more rumors since last Friday after he failed to attend the 90th anniversary gala commemorating the birth of the Chinese Communist Party. The one thing the ...
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