Why former leader Hu Jintao did not attend Jiang Zemin’s funeral
Former Chinese president Hu Jintao was among the few prominent figures absent from Tuesday’s (Dec 7) state funeral for his predecessor Jiang Zemin.
The previous day he had joined Xi Jinping and dozens of other top officials in bidding farewell to Jiang.
An official source said Hu and some other party elders did not attend Tuesday’s funeral because “they could not stand up for that long, given their age”.
At Monday’s closed-door ceremony, held at the Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital before Jiang’s cremation, Hu was shown standing next to Xi as he bowed to Jiang’s body three times.
TV footage also showed the frail-looking Hu, with the help of a young aide, walking unsteadily around Jiang’s body to pay tribute and offer condolences to Jiang’s family.
Hu and other party elders did not attend a second ceremony on Monday, attended by Xi and other incumbent leaders, at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery.
Monday was Hu’s first public appearance since the closing day of the Communist Party’s national congress in October, when he was escorted out of the closing ceremony well before the end.
That episode raised questions about both his health and his relationship with Xi, and state news agency Xinhua later said Hu’s early departure was related to his health.
The health of both incumbent and retired leaders is among the most closely guarded secrets of China, and the only clues available to the public are rare public appearances – or their absence from official events.
All the current and former leaders at the Tuesday morning ceremony remained standing throughout the hour-long session, according to state television footage.
At previous funerals for top leaders, including Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, all those attending, except for some very special cases, also remained standing throughout the event, seemingly to show their utmost respect.
Only Jiang’s wife Wang Yeping, 94, and another elderly person, seemingly from the Jiang family, were seated.
Serving and former members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of power in the party, stood at the front with Xi. These included former premier Wen Jiabao and former party ideology chief Zeng Qinghong, who was considered a close ally of Jiang.
Former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli, who was embroiled in an extramarital scandal with tennis star Peng Shuai, was also present.
Jia Qinglin, the 82-year-old former head of China’s top advisory body and a long-term ally of Jiang’s, also missed Tuesday’s funeral but, like Hu, was present at the first ceremony on Monday.
High-profile absentees from all events included Jiang’s right-hand man, former premier Zhu Rongji, 94, and former personnel chief Song Ping, 105.
Zhu’s last public appearance was in October 2017 at the closing day of the previous party congress, while Song, the oldest living party elder, was last seen at the closing ceremony of the latest party congress.
Former security chief Luo Gan, who is 87 and has not been seen in public for years, was also absent.