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Jiang Zemin goes hiking with family in latest public appearance

Jiang Zemin and his family members go hiking at Dongshan Ridge parkland in Hainan Province on January 3. Photos: Dongshan Ridge parkland

Former president Jiang Zemin has taken a walk with family members in Hainan province, photos posted online show, in an apparent show of the retired leader's health and continuing political influence, according to observers.

It was Jiang's second high-profile public appearance in a month.

The photos were posted on the WeChat account of the Dongshan Ridge parkland in the southern province. They showed Jiang, with his wife Wang Yeping and two other generations of their family, on their way to a mountainside Buddhist temple. They were accompanied by Luo Baoming, the Communist Party's provincial head, and several officials and bodyguards.

"It's a pity [that people] do not come to visit such a famous mountain in Hainan," Jiang, 88, was quoted by the WeChat message as saying. "It's a worthwhile trip for Jiang Zemin."

Jiang promised Luo he would help to promote the beauty of Dongshan, the message said. "Hainan [officials] should try to promote such a nice scenic spot," as should leaders in Beijing.

"I will help you to promote it when I return to Beijing. The mountain will be crowded in the future," Jiang was quoted as saying.

The pictures showed Jiang and his wife in apparent good spirits while hiking, although they needed some assistance to get up and down the mountain.

The details about the family's tour in Hainan were deleted by yesterday afternoon, but the pictures and quotes were widely picked up by media websites at home and overseas.

Some internet users and political observers noted that Dongshan in Chinese means "staging a comeback".

On December 3 - just two days before the authorities announced the dismissal and formal investigation into Zhou - state media reported Jiang, former vice-premier Li Lanqing and current vice-premier Liu Yandong had visited the National Museum in Beijing.

"Every time Jiang makes a public appearance it has a purpose, because he is such a typical old-style Chinese leader who is unwilling to give up power," said Zhang Ming, a professor of political science at Renmin University.

Jiang Zemin is assisted while hiking at Dongshan Ridge parkland.

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