BEIJING - Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin was cremated at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery on Monday morning, following a ceremony attended by President Xi Jinping and other top leaders.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that Mr Xi, along with members of the current and immediate past Politburo Standing Committee – the Communist Party’s top leadership body – bade Mr Jiang farewell at the Chinese PLA General Hospital before escorting his body to be cremated.
Former Chinese president Hu Jintao also attended the ceremony.
Mr Jiang died on Nov 30 of leukaemia and multiple organ failure in Shanghai. He was 96.
His body was flown to Beijing a day later.
On Monday, Mr Xi and other senior leaders bowed thrice to Mr Jiang’s body, draped in the Communist Party’s flag, to express their “high respect and heartfelt memory” of the former leader, reported CCTV. The state broadcaster also called Mr Jiang an “outstanding leader with high prestige”.
His cremation took place a day before a scheduled memorial service at the Great Hall of the People in the heart of the Chinese capital.
The service on Tuesday will be marked by three minutes of silence, reported state media.
Since his death, Chinese state media has been awash in praise and nostalgia for Mr Jiang, who ruled as the party’s general secretary from 1989 to 2002 and head of state from 1993 to 2003.
News relating to Mr Jiang’s death or tributes to him have dominated the front page of the party’s official newspaper, People’s Daily, since Dec 1.
He is widely remembered for leading China through a transformational time, taking power in 1989 after the Tiananmen incident, when China was an international pariah, and turning the country into a manufacturing powerhouse.
During his time in power, Mr Jiang oversaw China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation, as well as the return to Chinese rule of Hong Kong from Britain in 1997 and Macau from Portugal two years later.