Zhao is credited with introducing capitalism to China and 'providing specificity' to Deng Xiaoping's desire to reform the economy. His deteriorating condition had become a cause of concern for the current Chicomm leadership.
The government took steps Monday to minimize any public reaction to Zhao's death, apparently still worried about his potential as a political symbol.
The official announcement to China's people was limited to a two-sentence Xinhua report carried by Web sites and afternoon newspapers. But Xinhua sent an advisory telling radio and television broadcasters not to use it. CNN broadcasts to hotels and apartment complexes for foreigners were blacked out when they mentioned Zhao.
[It's interesting to note that the Yahoo article (linked) is much more detailed than the brief blurb in the NY Times.]