Jiang Zemin, the Chinese Communist Party leader who paved the way for the nation’s emergence as a global superpower, passed away at age 96.
Jiang passed away in Shanghai, and we’re so sad to hear that. Jiang died of leukemia and multiple organ failure.
The ruling Communist Party, parliament, Cabinet, and the military issued a letter to announce the death.
He leaves behind his wife, two sons, and two grandchildren.
After the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, China underwent extensive reforms. Jiang was credited for integrating China into the international community after his success.
Since he took over as China’s top leader, they’ve been on a roll. They’ve regained sovereignty over Hong Kong, picked up the bid to host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and joined the World Trade Organization too.
“That was presumably the key catalyst to the significant growth spurts of double-digit growth for a decade or more,” said Robert Lawrence Kuhn, author of a 2005 biography about Jiang Zemin.
Though Jiang’s reign was not without its problems, the general consensus is that he did a lot to bridge capitalism and socialism. He is said to have planted the seed for widespread corruption, which remains a huge source of concern and discontent among the Chinese public.
Initially, Jiang Zemin was considered a transitional figure, but Deng Xiaoping decided to only use him as an interim leader once Zhao Ziyang stepped down due to the bloody military suppression of the pro-democracy movement in 1989.
Jiang’s policies focused on economic liberalization and globalization. These changes led to improved standards of living and an increasing wealth gap.
At the same time, those policies also helped maintain the party’s iron grip over political, ideological, and military affairs within China.
Jiang proved himself to be a much shrewder politician than many had predicted. He outmaneuvered a myriad of political rivals and consolidated power in the party, military, and government after Deng Xiaoping’s death in 1997.
Jiang installed key allies and protégés into powerful positions at the party, military, and government levels, setting up an influential “Shanghai clique.”
Jiang declared that the party would welcome entrepreneurs, making private business owners official members. This was a significant move that revived the party’s once-dwindling membership and boosted China’s thriving private sector.
Jiang was born in eastern China in 1926, educated in pre-communist Shanghai, and trained as an electrical engineer. He reportedly joined the Communist Party while he was living a student life.
He rose gradually through the party ranks and became the minister of the electronics industry in 1983. Then two years later, he was chosen as mayor of Shanghai.
Furthermore, Jiang’s death comes at a particularly sensitive time in China. Recently, unprecedented protests broke out around the country against leader Xi Jinping, calling on him to step down and criticize the “zero-CV,” or compensation, policy.
China has a history of citizens taking to the streets to mourn the deaths of their past leaders while airing their grievances against incumbent governments.
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