Online wishes pour in as former Chinese president Jiang Zemin turns 95

China's former President Jiang Zemin looks up while President Hu Jintao gives his speech during the opening ceremony of 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 8, 2012.
PHOTO: Reuters file

“One more second” for the “elder”, called Chinese netizens, as they found creative ways to wish Jiang Zemin good health and a long life on his 95th birthday.

The former president of China turned 95 on Tuesday (Aug 17), but there was no official celebration, as Jiang had stepped down 18 years ago and there is no tradition among Chinese leaders to publicly mark their birthday. But internet users had not forgotten the special date.

Some posted messages with the sign '+1s', a popular online meme meaning 'one more second', as a wish for longevity.

Others sent their wishes referring to Jiang as 'the elder' and '95'. Five years ago, some netizens posted congratulatory messages calling Jiang 'Uncle Toad', in a reference to his trademark thick-rimmed glasses – a reference that was notably absent this year.

Some praised Jiang for his contributions to China’s scientific and economic advances, and recalled a famous comment by him in 2000 when he rebuked Hong Kong journalists for being “too simple, sometimes naive ” in interpreting Beijing’s endorsement of Tung Chee-hwa to serve a second term as the city’s chief executive.

“I had thought that ‘the elder’ was not being polite [in making the comment],” one netizen wrote. “Now I understand it better and it was me who was naive. He is 95 today.”

Jiang was last seen in public last October during National Day celebrations in Beijing but he did not attend the Communist Party centenary in July. Also absent on July 1 was former premier Zhu Rongji, who is 92.

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This article was first published in South China Morning Post.