China’s Internet censors today (July 6) began blocking searches for several terms related to Jiang Zemin, the former leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
It comes as Chinese websites, including the popular microblogging service Weibo, spread rumors that Jiang has died or is near death.
The 84-year-old was absent from last Friday’s celebrations of the CCP’s 90th anniversary, leading to speculation about the state of Jiang’s physical health.
Jiang’s death or incapacitating illness would be significant for the CCP, including possibly in the 2012 leadership transition. Jiang heads one of several cliques within the secretive Party that is jockeying for power and position.
The CCP has made no comment about Jiang’s status.
False rumors claiming Jiang had died have been spread in the past.