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Chinese state media: Jiang Zemin's death 'pure rumor'

By the CNN Wire Staff
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China: Jiang Zemin's death 'pure rumor'
  • NEW: Foreign ministry points to Xinhua report when asked about Jiang
  • Xinhua news agency attributes its information to "authoritative sources"
  • Speculation had swirled that the former president had died
  • As president, Jiang saw the peaceful handover of Hong Kong from Britain

Beijing (CNN) -- Chinese state media is dismissing reports that former President Jiang Zemin has died, calling them "pure rumor."

Speculation swirled throughout the day Wednesday that the 84-year-old leader had passed away.

On Thursday, the Xinhua news agency denied those reports, citing "authoritative sources."

"Recent reports of some overseas media organizations about Jiang Zemin's death from illness are pure rumor," the news agency said.

When reporters asked the foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei about Jiang's health at a news conference Thursday, he directed them to the Xinhua report.

China blocks news about former president
  • Jiang Zemin
  • China
  • Beijing
  • Chinese Politics

"Xinhua has sent out a relevant report. Please look up the report," he said.

Pressed further, Hong added, "Xinhua has made it clear. I have no more to add."

During his 13 years as general secretary of the Communist Party and nearly 10 years as president, Jiang mixed economic freedom and political control to move forward the so-called 'market socialism' introduced by his predecessor Deng Xiaoping.

Under his leadership, China began to emerge as the world's fastest growing major economy.

Jiang also saw the peaceful handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China and that of Macau from Portugal while repeatedly threatening to use military power against Taiwan if it declares independence.

CNN's Xiaoni Chen contributed to this report