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Francisco Franco Is Still Dead. Quite Possibly Jiang Zemin as Well

James Fallows:

Is Jiang Zemin Dead? Real-time Illustration of News Control in China: For the past 24+ hours, anyone following various social-media feeds about China has seen rumors, then official denials, then silence, about the possible demise of former president Jiang Zemin....

For another time, an assessment of what Jiang has meant, the differences between him and the current regime (and the regime about to take control), his family's role in China, and all of that.

The fascinating part at the moment is the gap between the speed and back-and-forth of the unauthorized discussion of his condition, and the ponderousness and opaque nature of official statements. An item two hours ago in the WSJ's China Realtime Report illustrates the extreme heavy-handedness of the news control. For instance: Jiang's name in Chinese is, 江泽民, with the first character, 江, being his family name. That character, jiang, literally means "river" -- and in the past few hours, any search for info about China's big rivers on Sina Weibo (China's Twitter counterpart, the real Twitter being blocked in China) comes up empty. As Josh Chin of the WSJ says:

In addition to "river," the company has also blocked searches for "death" in various iterations as well as "301 Hospital," a reference to the People's Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing where top leaders are often treated....

I wish Jiang and his family well. He has been out of power for nearly a decade. The government's difficulty in handling even the most basic info about his health is one more illustration of the unevenness of its emergence as a full-fledged world power. It will be interesting to see what the government finally says about him, when it does.