A Hong Kong-based show broke the news recently that Jiang Zemin, former Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China, has died. They have recently recanted this statement, but the internet is flowing with rumors about the possible death of one of the most influential men in the history of modern China.
The government in China has responded to these rumors with heavy-handed censorship, clearing all micro-blog posts referencing Jiang and blocking searches containing his name (the inconvenient and amusing consequence of which is that Chinese net-users are unable to search for “river,” the meaning of Jiang's surname).
Censorship in China is not unusual, but it may be surprising to Western readers that the Chinese government would be concerned about rumors surrounding the innocuous death of a former leader. What is it, exactly, that China has to fear from people talking about this?
As one leader passes, it becomes a time for Chinese people to more openly reflect on their merits and failings, and to speculate about the future of politics. @Edouroo on Twitter quoted Li Datong, the former editor of a Chinese democratic magazine, remarking that “the leaders of China have become weaker and weaker; Jiang Zemin was weaker...More >>