Former Chinese Chairman Jiang Zemin loved to act up and show off in front of the camera. His many ad hoc performances may have made him the center of attention, but he was considered a disgrace and embarrassment to the Chinese people back home.
In 1996, Jiang Zemin visited the Philippines. President Ramos treated him to a banquet on a luxury cruise. Jiang suddenly grabbed the microphone and started singing Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender. His casual behavior upset the formal nature of the official dinner.
In June of the same year, Jiang visited Spain. While accompanied by King Carlos to oversee the guard of honor, Jiang took out a comb and combed his hair regardless of the onlookers. During the feast in the evening, he again took out the comb to comb his hair in front of the cameras. The headlines of many local newspapers read: “King Carlos Watches President Jiang Zemin Comb His Hair” the next day.
His act shocked and shamed accompanying local Chinese officials and embarrassed the president, who could not make a comment due to diplomatic politeness. Again, Jiang’s disgraceful act made headlines in the Austrian media the next morning. One local newspaper even mocked him with a caricature featuring him playing the piano with a hammer and a sickle.
In October 1999, while visiting a museum in France, Jiang took the hand of French First Lady Bernadette Chirac and waltzed with her. This embarrassed and displeased President Chirac. The French considered it an insult to the whole nation.
In February 2002, Jiang Zemin hosted a banquet in the Great Hall of the People in honor of President Bush of America. Out of the blue, he sang the song My Sun in front of the guests. Bush applauded out of courtesy and jokingly suggested that Colin Powell should sing too, to which the U.S. Secretary of State politely declined.
In June 2002, at a state banquet hosted by the president of Iceland for Jiang’s official visit, Jiang stood up and sang halfway through the dinner. The hosting president and Jiang’s wife looked embarrassed.
As the head of a nation rich in culture and history, Jiang Zemin’s wanton behavior during his official visits abroad has exposed his lack of personal culture on the one hand, and damaged national dignity on the other.
Translated by Cecilia