China insists reports of Jiang Zemin's death are 'pure rumour'

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Reports of the death of the former president Jiang Zemin have been greatly exaggerated, the Chinese state media has insisted, amid a frenzy of speculation online and overseas.

In an unusual move, state news agency Xinhua issued a brief denial that the 84-year-old statesman had passed away to quell rumours that began on Friday when Jiang failed to attend the biggest political event of the year – a 90th anniversary celebration to mark the founding of the Chinese Communist party.

Asia Television of Hong Kong broadcast a report on Wednesday claiming Jiang had died of an unnamed illness. Japanese and South Korean media issued similar bulletins. Chinese journalists said they had been told to expect news on Thursday, but the only comment was a single line from Xinhua.

"Recent reports of some overseas media organisations about Jiang Zemin's death from illness are pure rumour," the newswire said, quoting unnamed "authoritative sources"....

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