President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have expressed their condolences over the passing of former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin in messages to Chinese President Xi Jinping, State media in Beijing reported on Tuesday.
The President and PM Modi were among world leaders to “express their deep condolences via phone, letters or other means to Chinese President Xi Jinping”, State-run Xinhua news agency reported, adding that the list included Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern among others.
Mr. Xi and former President Hu Jintao were among those who paid their last respects to Jiang at a funeral in Beijing on Monday.
Speaking at a memorial service on Tuesday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Mr. Xi praised the legacy of Jiang, who headed the Communist Party for a decade until 2002 that saw extraordinary growth as well as improving relations between China and the West.
Calling for the Communist Party “to turn grief into strength” and emphasising the need for “unity”, he asked party members to strengthen “the backbone and confidence” of the party and “not succumb to pressure”.
Jiang’s passing last week has triggered an outpouring of nostalgia on Chinese social media for a period that saw both economic opportunity and relative openness. His death came amid protests against lockdowns and stringent COVID-19 policies. In recent days, the Chinese government has announced a series of measures to ease restrictions and has begun a shift away from the “zero-COVID” policy of the past three years.
The Beijing government on Tuesday morning, shortly before the memorial service, announced that residents for the first time in many months no longer need PCR test results to enter buildings, another major easing measure following an earlier move to no longer require test results to access public transport.