And if the News of the World phone-hacking story weren't enough, Hong Kong news is reporting that Jiang Zemin has died of illness, something unreported up to now. Here's a screen grab:
Here's a link to the above picture.
Although there have been false announcments that Jiang Zemin has died before, this one has the look of truth. Jiang has cut a rather pathetic figure in recent years, with his Shanghai-based coterie losing out in the contest with the Hu/Wen and their supporters, and his previously lauded leadership becoming the object of veiled criticism from many angles, but this still does come as a little bit of a shock.
As for the effect this will have on the upcoming change in leadership, my answer is: none. Jiang was already fairly marginalised and had little influence on the outcome.
I'll post more thoughts latter if and when this is properly confirmed.
[EDIT: Question - Assuming that this news is confirmed, has release of this news been delayed so as not to cast a pall over the CCP's 90th anniversary celebrations, at which Jiang was a notable no-show?]
[UPDATE: Xinhua has released an official denial. Whilst I was originally inclined to believe the initial ATV report, I now don't know what to believe. Jiang is most likely gravely ill at the very least, but besides that, nothing is known.
For anyone wondering when the last time Jiang was seen in public was, the Guardian has the answer: October 2009 at the PRC's 60th anniversary parade, and then again last year in Sichuan closely followed by medical professionals.]