Xinhua figure Zhang dies after heart problem

Local | Phoebe Ng and Riley Chan 20 Feb 2018

The former deputy director of the Xinhua News Agency, Zhang Junsheng, has died at the age of 82 after suffering cardiac arrest.

He died at Zhejiang Hospital, where a temporary mourning hall has been set up, sources said.

Born in Fujian in 1936, Zhang joined the Communist Party in 1956.

He was assigned to Hong Kong after the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed in 1984, working for Xinhua as vice minister and minister before he was promoted to deputy director and spokesman in 1988.

His speeches then were viewed as representing the official stance of the central government. He retired 10 years later.

Despite having served as the former deputy director of state-owned Xinhua, Zhang remarkably voiced approval of open objection to the use of force during the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident.

On May 21, 1989, Wen Wei Po, which is controlled by the official news agency, left its editorial column blank in condemnation of the government's planned crackdown on the student movement.

The unusual protest eventually caused an editorial board reshuffle after the suppression turned bloody on June 4

Many on Wen Wei Po's editorial board were then replaced, although Zhang managed to hold onto his position.

Zhang eventually retired in 1998, when he became the secretary of CPC Zhejing University. He had also been teaching at Zhongshan University, Communication University of China and Zhejing University as part-time professor.

He was also an adviser to the governments of Sichuan, Zhejing and Shenzhen provinces.

He remained outspoken after his retirement, notably in 2014, accusing Hong Kong's last colonial governor Chris Patten of inflicting wounds on Hong Kong and advising him not to comment on the SAR's affairs.

He also dismissed the Occupy Movement the same year, saying the pro-democracy leaders "have never done anything good for Hong Kong."

Last June, Zhang defended the national anthem law and called on the legislation of a national security law.

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