China

Former Chinese Leader Jiang Zemin Dies at 96

 

Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin died on Wednesday at the age of 96. State media said he died of leukaemia and multiple organ failure.

Jiang passed away at 12:13pm (0413 GMT) in his home city of Shanghai, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Jiang Zemin was general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1989 to 2002. He was chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 till 2004 and president from 1993 to 2003.

Seen initially as a plodding bureaucrat, before being elevated to high office. He was selected by Deng as a compromise leader in the hope he could unify hardliners and more liberal elements.

Over time, he was seen as the “core of the third generation” of CCP leaders. Under his leadership, China saw the return of Hong Kong from Britain in 1997 and Macau from Portugal two years later.

 

Jiang Zemin oversaw a period of outstanding economic growth in the mid to late 90s. Reuters file photo.

 

Xinhua published a letter to the Chinese people by the ruling Communist Party, parliament, Cabinet and the military announcing the death.

It said: “Comrade Jiang Zemin’s death is an incalculable loss to our Party and our military and our people of all ethnic groups,” adding that the announcement was made with “profound grief”.

It described “our beloved Comrade Jiang Zemin” as an outstanding leader of high prestige, a great Marxist, statesman, military strategist and diplomat and a long-tested communist fighter.

Jiang was plucked from obscurity to head China’s ruling Communist Party after the bloody Tiananmen crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in June 1989, but broke the country out of its subsequent diplomatic isolation, mending fences with the United States and overseeing an unprecedented economic boom.

 

  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard

 

 

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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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