China mourns the death of former President Jiang Zemin

With flags flying at half mast on official buildings in Beijing and state media websites black and white, China was in mourning on Thursday, the day after the death of former President Jiang Zemin.

Zemin died Wednesday at the age of 96 of leukemia and multiple organ failure, according to state media. He held power from 1989 to 2003.

In his hometown, Yanghzou, flowers were laid in his honor, and not far from there, in Shanghai, an important police force was deployed near the hospital where he would have died.

A convoy of vehicles left the hospital, led by a car with a wreath of yellow flowers. The caravan then headed for the Hongqiao airport.

Hours before, the police had ordered the people gathered in the hospital area to leave.

In images, some images showed a group of people on the sidewalk with chrysanthemums. One of them carried a banner that read: "Bon voyage, old classmate.".

funerals in preparation

One of the residents of the neighborhood explained that, on Wednesday night, he received an unexpected notice from his son’s school to tell him that the establishment would be closed the following day for "reasons of circulation".

This neighbor was also prohibited from leaving his residential complex before Thursday, and had to close all the windows, without revealing the reason for the measures.

On Wednesday, the state media announced that the funeral preparation committee for the former president had been created, headed by the current president, Xi Jinping.

However, no date has yet been released for the ceremony, which should be held in Beijing.

Pictures circulating on social media Thursday showed the walls of Jiang’s old home in Yangzhou lined with bouquets of flowers.

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A florist in the area said she had received more than a hundred orders from people who wanted to pay tribute to the former president, including people from other cities.

Y "we are not the ones who receive more orders"he added. "Some stores had hundreds!"

grandpa jiang

State television CCTV said on Wednesday that flags would be flown at half mast at various government buildings until the funerals were held.

State media and public companies switched their web pages to black and white, as did several mobile phone applications, such as Alipay, Taobao or McDonald’s.

The Chinese population is divided over Jiang’s legacy.

Although many of them remember a jovial leader, full of humor, who brought fresh air to the communist leadership, others do not forget that, under his mandate, corruption, social inequalities and repression against political militants increased considerably.

Now retired, he was seen with a certain tenderness by the generations born after the 1980s.

Many called the former leader "grandpa jiang".

On Wednesday, in just one hour, more than half a million people had commented on the announcement of his death on state television CCTV on the Weibo platform (a Chinese equivalent of Twitter).

Internationally, Russian President Vladimir Putin was one of the first foreign leaders to pay tribute to Zemin, a "sincere friend" from Russia and a "outstanding statesman".

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said of him that he was a "staunch supporter of international engagement" of his country, and praised his "warmth and personal openness".

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