Jiang Zemin, the former leader of the Chinese Communist Party, is currently in a vegetative state, relying on medical devices and infusions to keep him alive, according to an individual in China with knowledge of the circumstances.
The individual, who could not be identified for fear of repercussions, said that Jiang’s condition means that he has not played a role in the current infighting that has seized the Party.
The news came as severe infighting within the communist party intensified and spilled into the public domain in recent weeks. The two factions are widely reported to be the Jiang faction (which includes security chief Zhou Yongkang and former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai who was recently sacked); and China’s current leader Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao.
Jiang, 85, was the head of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2002. He was president of the People’s Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, as well as chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2005.
Jiang Zemin rose to power in 1989 after pushing for the crackdown in Tiananmen Square in June that resulted in a massacre. He replaced Zhao Ziyang as the Communist Party chief.
Jiang launched the persecution of the spiritual practice of Falun Gong in July 1999, despite objections from high-ranking Party members and, reportedly, members of his own family. Although Jiang was replaced as head of the CCP by Hu Jintao in 2004, Jiang retained significant power behind the scenes as head of a faction within the CCP.
Zhou Yongkang, the chief of security forces, has become the stand-in for Jiang’s faction in the current power struggle. Zhou was elevated through the ranks to lead the secretive Political and Legislative Affairs Committee, a sprawling organization with unchecked powers, after he showed he could be loyal to Jiang. This loyalty was expressed through Zhou’s iron-fisted persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.
There has been a question mark over Jiang’s health for months now. He last appeared in public in October last year, after Hong Kong media and at least one Chinese broadcaster reported that he had died.
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