A 3.5 hour speech by President Xi Jinping nearly put a former Chinese leader to sleep -- and it's happened before

(Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

As the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party got underway yesterday, President Xi Jinping delivered a three-and-a-half hour report that appeared to be far too long for a former Chinese President.

During the speech, 91-year-old Jiang Zemin repeatedly looked at his watch, yawned and even appeared to be napping at one point.

Jiang Zemin became president in 1989, not long after the Tiananmen Square massacre, and ruled until 2003. A piano player, he once performed Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender” after dinner with the President of the Philippines.

Rumours around his health have swirled for years and in 2010 a Hong Kong TV station was fined for announcing his premature death.

Still attending official events Jiang, nicknamed the “frog” for his big eyes and wide grin, rarely hid how he feels in front of photographers over the years:

During this week’s 3.5 hour opening speech Jiang checked his watch more than a dozen times.

(Photo: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)

And at one point, less than halfway through the 3.5 hour speech, Jiang was checking his watch every three minutes.

(Photo: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2002, Jiang’s own opening speech at the National Congress lasted just 15 minutes.

(Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

At the 2012 National Congress, Jiang seemed similarly unimpressed during the closing session

(Photo: Feng Li/Getty Images)

Five years ago he also checked to see what time it was.

(Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images


(Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)

And again.

(Photo: Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty Images)

The same thing happened at the 2007 National Congress.

(Photo: Feng Li/Getty Images)

Where Jiang, a sprightly 81 back then, also dozed off for a while.

(Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

He also rested his eyes during the 2004 National Congress.

(Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

There were rumours that Jiang had died in 2010 – and again earlier this year.

(Photo: John Stillwell – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

But the former President lives on.

(Photo: Stephen Shaver/AFP/Getty Images)

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