Chinese people were saddened to hear the news of the passing of their former leader Jiang Zemin, who died Wednesday in Shanghai at the age of 96.
In the early morning of Thursday, the national flag flew at half-mast in Tian’anmen Square in Beijing.
“When Comrade Jiang Zemin was in office, China’s reform, opening-up and socialist modernization drive unfolded with great momentum,” said Ren Yuhe, a Beijing citizen who came specially to the square to pay tribute.
The staff of central Party and state institutions, as well as people’s organizations, listened to or watched the announcement addressing the whole Party, the entire military, and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups through television, radio, and the internet.
They agreed that during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the historical juncture critical to the future of the Party and the country, Jiang led the central collective leadership to break new ground in China’s reform and opening-up as well as socialist modernization.
In the city of Yangzhou, east China’s Jiangsu province, flower bouquets lined the entrance to the former residence of Jiang.
“Comrade Jiang Zemin was the pride of the people of Yangzhou. He will always live in our heart,” said local resident Li Hua.
Jiang had served as deputy chief of the dynamic mechanics division, deputy chief engineer for dynamic mechanics, and director of the power factory of the First Automotive Works (FAW) in the northeastern city of Changchun.
“We can always learn from his diligence and eagerness to learn,” said Mao Lyuping, a colleague of Jiang when he worked at the FAW.
Wang Yumei, a villager from Qiqihar city of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, felt Jiang’s concern for the people with firsthand experience. In the summer of 1998, China was hit by massive flooding on the Yangtze, Nenjiang, and Songhua rivers. “The flooding destroyed my home. At the most difficult time, Comrade Jiang Zemin came to visit us, who were suffering from the flooding. He shook hands with me,” recalled Wang. “We miss him from the bottom of our hearts.”
Liu Feng, director of the Research Center for Free Trade Port with Chinese Characteristics at Hainan Normal University, said Jiang gave great support for building Hainan into a special economic zone. “We will forge ahead along the socialist path with Chinese characteristics and live up to his expectations,” Liu said.
At Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), Jiang’s alma mater, students and staff came to present bouquets in front of the School of Electronic Information and Electrical Engineering and stood in silent tribute to express sorrow.
“During his college years, he developed a Marxist worldview, made his life choice and established his lifelong ideal and belief of working for national liberation and the people’s well-being,” said Zhang Ziwen, a doctoral student at SJTU. “We must rally around the Communist Party of China Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core with greater resolve and purpose, and strive in unity to advance national rejuvenation on all fronts.”
In the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the Macao Special Administrative Region (Macao SAR), national and regional flags were flown at half-mast at major government buildings, legislative and judiciary institutions, and the central authorities’ offices.
A mourning hall was set up at the office building of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR on Thursday. Tung Chee-hwa, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), delegated his relatives to lay wreaths. Vice Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee Leung Chun-ying, HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee, and former chief executive of the HKSAR Carrie Lam came to pay their tribute.
Outside the office building, thousands of Hong Kong residents gathered to send flowers and pay their respects.
In Macao, Vice Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee Ho Hau Wah, Macao SAR Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng, and former chief executive of the Macao SAR Chui Sai On paid their tribute at a mourning hall set up at the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Macao SAR. Over 1,200 people came to pay their respects on Thursday.
People from all walks of life in Taiwan also mourned for Jiang. Eric Chu, chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang party, as well as Taiwan compatriots on the mainland, also expressed their condolences over the passing of Jiang.