Beijing: Former President Jiang Zemin, who led China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, on Sunday appeared in public for the first time since rumours spread that he was dead.

Jiang, 85, attended a major event organised by the ruling Communist Party at the Great Hall of the People here to mark the 100th anniversary of the Chinese emperor's overthrow.

Jiang, said to remain an influential political figure, appeared with other top leaders at the ceremony hosted by current President Hu Jintao.

Though Jiang looked frail, he was seen smiling as he chatted to his successor Hu during the ceremony that was telecast live on state television.

Jiang served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002, as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, and as Chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2005.

Jiang's long career and political prominence have led to him being described as the "core of the third generation" of Communist Party leaders.

China's state media had issued a rare denial after a Hong Kong television station reported in July that Jiang had died.