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It's been claimed in connection with the US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade that:

In February 2011 The Sunday Times published an article stating that an unpublished memoir by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin recounts how Serbian forces were allowed to use the Chinese embassy, and that privately the U.S. showed evidence of this activity to the Chinese.

However, it seems there's virtually no other evidence/context that Jiang has written an "unpublished memoir". Since he was a (formal) head of state of a big country, I'd expect at least some other interesting bits to have come out his memoir(s). Yet nothing else appears to have surfaced in the English press. The Wikipedia bio of Jiang (unlike the article on the bombing), makes no mention whatsoever that Jiang might have written an "unpublished memoir". So, did he actually do that? What evidence is there besides a few claims in relation to the bombing that Jiang has written an unpublished memoir?

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    Just a minor matter: The Chinese put the family name first, so calling Jiang Zemin 'Zemin', is like calling President Biden 'Joe'. On top of that, I nearly always hear the Chinese using a person's whole name in a formal context.
    – j4nd3r53n
    Mar 15 at 10:56

1 Answer 1

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It was published, actually

According to the Times article (as republished here), the "unpublished memoir" appeared in a Hong Kong magazine called Qians[h]ao or Outpost. This article also provides the recommendation of "Chinese journalists" who believe the memoir is authentic because the Hong Kong political press has often published leaks.

I can't find any evaluation of the memoir

I find that Qians[h]ao 前哨 is often described as Hong Kong's leading political magazine. Its publisher is 刘达文 who prefers the Romanization Lau Tat-man for his name, and apparently refers to his magazine as "Frontline" instead of Outpost. He also ran a publishing house called 夏菲尔出版社, which he Romanized as Ha Fai Yi Publication Ltd. He continued publishing Qianshao even after most other Hong Kong political magazines shut down in 2014.

The first linked article on Lau Tat-man shows that Chinese security forces are very concerned by him and have monitored his activities and arrested his friends. The print edition of Qianshao also seems to have been shut down in 2020, although it still has a Facebook page. But I cannot find any confirmation or denial regarding this Serbia story. If you search in Chinese you will see Qianshao has published several stories reported to originate from the words of Jiang Zemin, and I cannot find any critical evaluation of any of them.

I believe a really strong answer to this question will require someone with knowledge of the Hong Kong dissident press.

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    Can you precise which "Times article" you are refering to, and add a link or a direct quote (ideally, both) ?
    – Evargalo
    Mar 15 at 8:08
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    I actually the read the article now and find most implausible the other claim that Jiang Zemin regretted the Falun Gong crackdown, even moreso that he'd list it as one of his top two regrets. According to the bio of JZ by RL Kuhn. which is a little hagiographic, but I see no reason why Kuhn would exaggerate on this issue, JZ was the principal instigator of the crackdown and often vocal against FG in private. It seems rather unlikely he'd had such a huge change of heart on that. JZ even gave Clinton a book on why FG is terrible, which the US admin found in bad taste (as a gift).
    – Fizz
    Mar 15 at 10:14
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    If this bio was published in Hong Kong, then it should be possible to get a copy of the Qianshao article somewhere (presumably in Chinese). Although carefully reading the linked Times article says they only claim that Qianshao wrote an article which refers to Jiang Zemins unpublished writings as its source. Qianshao didn't actually publish the writings themselves.
    – quarague
    Mar 15 at 11:42
  • I was going to photocopy the actual Chinese language article today but I wasn't able to, due to scheduling issues. I will put this aside for now. If anyone is actually interested in translating it, please leave a comment here.
    – Avery
    Mar 18 at 13:54
  • @Avery: that's probably overkill. It would be interesting to know if the article in Chinese says anything more why they think the memoir is authentic, besides what's been said in the English article, if there is anything like that discussed in the former.
    – Fizz
    Mar 18 at 23:47

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