Some Closure on Jiang Zemin (Not That Kind): A Party Elder’s Death by Twitter
July 12, 2011 § Leave a comment
By Rebecca Liao
As celebrations got under way in The Great Hall of the People for the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, CCTV gave each party elder their customary close-up–except for the elder who loved close-ups most of all. A wide-angle shot of the tableau revealed that former President Jiang Zemin was indeed absent. Since retiring in 2003, Jiang had been at every official event, eager to remind the party and the public of his still-formidable authority as Retired Party Elder #1. Immediately, speculation ran rampant about the reasons for Jiang’s absence: he was making a political statement; he was ailing from a massive heart attack suffered in April earlier this year; the party was confirming his diminishing influence as China prepares for a leadership transition next year. Netizens, however, betting that the rules of the modern Chinese workplace applied within the party as well, came up with the only reasonable explanation: he was dead. And so ensued a tense, “Is he or isn’t he?” that became more and more comical with each piece of information offered, whether it was through news organizations, Sina Weibo, or Twitter. Relive the cat-and-mouse action through my Tweet-tracker, which was programmed to rescue any nugget that would have been deleted or blocked (or was deleted or blocked) by Chinese government and Sina Weibo censors. Read the rest of the story here!