Jiang Zemin; Covid messaging shift; Protests aftermath; Real estate; Saudi Arabia
Jiang Zemin died today in Shanghai at 12:13 p.m, at the age of 96 according to the official announcement. The cause was “leukemia and multiple organ failure”.
There is a funeral committee chaired by Xi and consisting of dozens of current and retired senior leaders. If Deng Xiaoping’s 1997 memorial service is the template then there will likely be a large gathering at the Great Hall of the People, probably by early next week. Xi is continuing with business as usual, as Jiang did in the days after Deng died.
They will have had plenty of time to prepare for this event, and not just because in the middle of November rumors were flying that he had died, so much that I included “Rumor to watch: The rumor mill churning that Jiang Zemin has died” in the November 14th newsletter.
Jiang passed at a particularly sensitive time given the recent public gatherings. There is a history of public displays of mourning for departed leaders turning into expressions of dissatisfaction with the current leadership, specifically the 1976 Tiananmen Incident three months after Zhou Enlai died and the 1989 protests sparked by the death of Hu Yaobang in April. There has been an outpouring of remembrances online but so far no reports of any significant gatherings. If the authorities are smart they will ease off on the online censorship to allow people a virtual outlet for their feelings.
If there are to be any spontaneous large public displays of mourning Shanghai is the most likely place, both because of all the things he did for the city over the years and also because of the widespread anger over the lockdown disaster earlier this year. It is possible that the weekend protests and the fast quelling of them turn out to be fortuitous to Xi, as the response reminded many people of the costs of speaking up publicly. And many college students have already been sent home.
Here is the front page of the December 1st People’s Daily:
Most websites are also all greyed out.
This week’s episode of the Sharp China podcast is on the recent protests. We recorded it Tuesday afternoon DC time, and at the end we discuss what might happen when Jiang Zemin died, given the recent rumors.
In yet another signal that the Covid policies are changing, Vice Premier and Covid Tsar Sun Chunlan held a meeting at the National Health Commission with experts and said:
With the weakening of the pathogenicity of Omicron virus, the popularization of vaccination and the accumulation of prevention and control experience, China is facing a new situation and new tasks in epidemic prevention and control