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China's ex-president publishes book about himself

It's not going to contain juicy details like Bill Clinton's memoirs, but Jiang Zemin has penned a book of his own.
By Agence France-Presse | None, Beijing
PUBLISHED ON JUL 31, 2006 03:54 PM IST

It's not going to contain juicy details like Bill Clinton's memoirs, but China's former president has penned a book of his own.

The book, titled For a Better World: Jiang Zemin's Overseas Visits, was released at a ceremony at Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on Sunday, the Xinhua news agency said.

At 654 pages, the publication about Jiang's official travels from 1990 to 2002 does not promise to be a page-turner but it is getting publicity in the state-run press and a lot of fanfare.

After all, it's not every day that Chinese leaders, current or retired, write autobiographies. Much of the basic information about them, including what their children do for a living, is never disclosed by the state media.

More than 400 Chinese diplomats, officials and scholars, including State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan and former Vice-Premier Qian Qichen, attended the book-launching Sunday, Xinhua said.

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing wrote the foreword.

 
Jiang Zemin's memoirs are unique because much of the basic information about leaders, whether current or retired, is never disclosed by the state media

The book covers most of Jiang's diplomatic activities during the 13 years when he was communist party general secretary and then president.

It starts with Jiang's three-day visit to North Korea in 1990 and ends with his visit to the United States in 2002 when he was invited to US President George W. Bush's ranch -- a much sought-after invitation by Jiang.

The publication also gives detailed accounts of Jiang's attendance at Hong Kong's and Macau's handover ceremonies in 1997 and 1999 respectively as well as his personal contacts with world leaders, Xinhua said.

The 79-year-old former leader is seen by many as more charismatic than his successor Hu Jintao.

Unlike the often cautious and wooden-looking Hu, Jiang has sung karaoke at dinners he hosted for foreign leaders and openly lectured Hong Kong reporters who irked him. He also has a penchant for classical music.

The book's publication is one of the few times Jiang has surfaced since he gave up his last official post as head of the military in March 2005, marking his final resignation. He resigned as Communist Party chief in 2002 and as president in 2003.

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