- BBC News World
Former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, who rose to power after the Tiananmen Square protests and presided over a decade of meteoric economic growth, has died at the age of 96.
State media reported that he died just after noon on Wednesday.
In the communiqué of the Communist Party issued by the media, they indicated that he had died in Shanghai of leukemia and multiple organ failure.
Jiang Zemin is one of the major figures in Chinese history in recent decades. He presided over China for ten years from 1993, a time when the country opened up on a grand scale and experienced tremendous growth.
His death comes at a time when China is experiencing some of its most serious protests since Tiananmen, with many demonstrating against the covid restrictions set by the government.
jiang rose to power after the bloody repression of 1989 against protesters in and around Tiananmen Square, which led China to international ostracism.
The event sparked a deep power struggle at the top of the Communist Party of China between hard-line reactionaries and reformists.
This led to Jiang, who had initially been seen as a hard-working bureaucrat, elevated to high office. He was chosen as leader by mutual agreementhoping it would unify hardliners and more liberals.
under his direction a formidable economy was forgedthe communists tightened their grip on power, and China took its place at the head table of world powers.
He oversaw the peaceful handover of Hong Kong in 1997 and China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, which intertwined the country’s economy with that of the international community. China thus became a great manufacturing power and a growing economic rival to the developed world.
However, political reforms were also sidelined. and was criticized for the harsh crackdown on the Falun Gong religious sect in 1999, considered a threat to the Party.
He also wanted to secure his position within the Communist Party and created his own political ideology – the theory of the Three Representatives – in an attempt to modernize the party.
During his tenure, Jiang tried to strengthen ties with the United States, visiting the country several times and offering then-President George W. Bush cooperation in Washington’s “war on terror” after the 9/11 attacks.
In a country not known for its flamboyant leaders, he was seen as a politician with a more colorful personality than his successors. Jiang was the exception to the mold of stiff, unsmiling Chinese leaders.
He was the communist who quoted Abraham Lincoln and proclaimed his love for Hollywood movies. It was memorable the moment in which he sang the Elvis Presley song “Love me tender” at an international meeting and that he took a bath on the Hawaiian coast.
The less enthusiastic Chinese called it a “pot”, comparing it to a frivolous ornament, and mocked its vanities.
But Jiang’s unexpected rise and quirks caused others to underestimate him, and during 13 years as general secretary of the Communist Party he matured into a shrewd politician who bested a succession of rivals.
His political influence lasted long after his formal retirement, giving him great influence behind the scenes. when choosing the current president, Xi Jinping.In his later years he withdrew from government and was rarely seen in public. But even when there were hardly any appearances of him, he became an unlikely subject of viral internet memes. Many Chinese people affectionately caricatured his big glasses and compared his appearance to that of a toad. The young fans called themselves “toad worshippers”.
Jiang’s successors as president, Hu Jintao – who was excluded from the Communist Party of China (CCP) congress last month – and Xi Jinping, are scheduled to attend his funeral, according to a letter published by the state-run Global Times newspaper. The letter also added that the foreign leaders and governments will not be invited to the event. The funeral committee explained that the decision is in line with what it called “China’s practice.”
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