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Jiang Zemin, former leader who paved the way for China’s rise, dies at 96


Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin, who paved the way for China’s rise as a global superpower, has died, state-run Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday. he was 96 years old.

The former head of the ruling Communist Party and president died in Shanghai on Wednesday of multiple organ failure linked to leukemia. He leaves behind his wife, two sons and two grandchildren.

After the Tiananmen Incident in 1989, China was estranged from the West. With Mr. Jiang as the supreme leader, China regained sovereignty over Hong Kong and successfully bid for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, successfully returning to the international community. . The key is to join the World Trade Organization.

The 2005 biography The Man Who Changed China: The Life and the Legacy of Jiang Zemin. ”

“As for the economic trajectory that was set, it was perfectly clear to me that it was established in the meantime and could not be undone towards the end of his term.”

However, many observers see Jiang’s reign as sowing the seeds of widespread corruption, which to this day remains a major lightning rod for dissatisfaction. He emphasized the benefits of “silently making a fortune.”

Initially seen as a transitional figure, the relatively unknown Jiang was elected party leader in 1989 by then-supreme leader Deng Xiaoping. That same year, a bloody military crackdown on the nationwide pro-democracy movement led to the ouster of his predecessor Zhao Ziyang. Party leader sympathetic to protesters.

“Jiang was a contradictory figure and an accidental leader,” says the founder of Mirror Media Group, an influential New York-based Chinese-language publisher that publishes books and websites about Chinese politics. Pin Ho, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Executive Officer, said. “He admired and respected Western culture, but at the same time he had to live within the Chinese political system.”

“He wasn’t ready to be a well-thought-out, visionary leader,” he added. “He merely extended Deng’s rule by implementing Deng’s policies.”

These policies focused on economic liberalization and globalization while maintaining the party’s iron grip on political, ideological and military affairs in the world’s most populous nation, leading to rising standards of living and wealth inequality. brought about an expansion of

On July 1, 1997, Chinese leader Jiang Zemin shook hands with Prince Charles during the handover ceremony of Hong Kong to China.

Jiang, the former party leader and mayor of China’s largest city, Shanghai, has proven to be a far more shrewd politician than many expected, defeating countless political rivals. , especially after Deng’s death, strengthened the power of the party and the military in the years. in 1997. He placed important allies and patrons throughout the party and government, and led the so-called “Shanghai Creek.”

In a clear sign of Jiang’s relative openness and flexibility, he welcomed sole proprietors (effectively capitalists) into the Communist Party with open arms. In 2001, a year before he stepped down as party leader, Jiang declared that the party would formally accept entrepreneurs as members.

His rule was also marked by the government’s ruthless crackdown on Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that Beijing has branded an evil cult. The group’s die-hard supporters have called for Mr Jiang’s arrest around the world for “crimes against humanity”, and have often been persistent during the Chinese leader’s overseas visits.

Beginning in late 2002, Jiang handed over the title to his successor, Hu Jintao, first as party leader and then as president. However, he stuck to his military commander post until 2005, and even after officially retiring, he continued to wield political influence behind the scenes, including in the election of China’s current leader, Xi Jinping. I was. The road he rules all his life.

Xi, the most powerful leader since the founder of the People’s Republic, Mao Zedong, has gutted political rivals, including Jiang’s faction. He also set back many of the economic and personal freedoms seen during the Deng, Jiang, and Hu eras and reasserts the ruling Communist Party’s control over all aspects of Chinese society.

An unprecedented wave of protests against China’s relentless “zero-coronavirus” policy has erupted across China in recent days, with some demonstrators in Shanghai calling for President Xi Jinping’s resignation. Jiang’s death comes at a particularly sensitive time, given the history of Chinese people taking to the streets to mourn the death of their former leaders and express their dissatisfaction with the current government.

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with former leader Jiang Zemin at the Communist Party National Congress in Beijing on October 24, 2017.

Born in eastern China in 1926 and educated in pre-communist Shanghai, Zhang was trained to be an electrical engineer. He joined the party while in college and reportedly went to study in the former Soviet Union in the 1950s. He rose gradually within the party, becoming minister of electronics industry in 1983, before being appointed mayor of Shanghai two years later.

Known for his heavy, black-rimmed glasses, Jean recited Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in English and sang “O Sole Mio” in Italian to foreign dignitaries. He was also known for his love of showing off his linguistic and artistic skills.

In a May 1997 one-on-one interview with CNN, he said, “I think that regardless of one’s profession, if one can read literature or enjoy music, it will be very helpful for their healthy development.” said Jiang. .

Chinese leader Jiang Zemin smiles during a meeting with executives at the Fortune Global Forum in Hong Kong on May 8, 2001.

Jiang’s flamboyant personality and cosmopolitan flair were sometimes ridiculed during his reign, but as Chinese social media users increasingly recall the relatively relaxed political and social atmosphere under his leadership. It has brought unexpected online popularity in recent years.

Many often point to his surprising decision to approve a joint press conference with Bill Clinton for live national television in 1997. On that occasion, he had a heated discussion with the visiting US president on human rights issues in China.

“I think he was underestimated when he was alive,” said Orville Schell, a leading U.S. scholar of Chinese studies. “Compared to Mr. Hu and Mr. Xi, he was very talkative, open and friendly.”

“He was one of the few Chinese leaders who wanted to be a normal world leader, not a communist dictator.”

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