“Zhu Remarks Seen as Jab at Wen”

Zhu has slipped out of the shadows once more to own the current leadership, as WSJ reports:

China’s straight-talking former premier, Zhu Rongji, returned to the political limelight when a popular newspaper published excerpts from a new book of his speeches in which he warns officials not to be “yes men” and calls for urgent reform to address public grievances.

The two speeches featured in the Southern Weekend newspaper were delivered in 1998 and 2003, but their publication Thursday was seen by many Internet commentators as an oblique attack on the current leadership, and especially Mr. Zhu’s successor, Wen Jiabao.

It was unclear why Southern Weekend was chosen to preview the book, how it selected the two speeches that it featured, and who was responsible for the headlines. Editors at the newspaper didn’t respond to a request for comment. Mr. Zhu couldn’t be reached.

Both the book, which was launched Thursday, and the two-page pullout in the newspaper served to highlight the contrast between today’s consensus-driven leaders and Mr. Zhu — who, at 83 years old, is still renowned as an aggressive reformer with no tolerance for corruption, incompetence or red tape.

The newspaper initially appeared on newsstands in Beijing without the pullout on Mr. Zhu, prompting widespread speculation online that it had been taken out by China’s media censors, despite Mr. Zhu’s status as head of the government between 1998 and 2003.

Retired leaders don’t normally criticize their successors in public, but Mr. Zhu broke that convention in April when he openly criticized several government policies in a speech at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, his alma mater.

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