Jiang Zemin : Tiananmen Square protests, has died at 96.


Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese leader who came to power after the Tiananmen Square protests, has died at the age of 96.

State media said he died shortly after 12:00 pm local time (0400 GMT) in Shanghai on Wednesday.

Jiang presided over an era when China opened up extensively and grew at a high pace.

His death comes as China experiences some of its most serious protests since Tiananmen, with many demonstrating against Covid restrictions.

A statement from the Chinese Communist Party said he died of leukemia and multiple organ failure.

He was recognized as “an outstanding leader with great reputation” and “a long-standing proven communist fighter”, he added.

State media, including the Global Times and Xinhua news agency, rendered their websites black-and-white in tribute.

Jiang came to power in 1989 following a bloody crackdown on protesters in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, which led to an international boycott of China.

The incident sparked a bitter power struggle at the top of the Communist Party between hardline reactionaries and reformers.

This led to Jiang, originally considered a hardworking bureaucrat, being promoted to a higher position. He was chosen as a compromise leader, in the hope that he would unite hardliners and more moderate elements.

Under his leadership, a formidable economy was created, the Communists consolidated their grip on power, and China took its place at the pinnacle of world powers.

He oversaw the peaceful handover of Hong Kong in 1997 and China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, which linked the country to the global economy.

But political reforms were also sidelined and he cracked down on internal dissent by taking a hard line on Taiwan. He was criticized in 1999 for his brutal suppression of the Falun Gong religious sect, which was seen as a threat to the Communist Party.
He was also eager to secure his position within the Communist Party and came up with his own political ideology – the Three Representation Theory – in an effort to modernize the party.

During his term in office, Jiang sought to strengthen ties with the United States, visiting the country several times and supporting then-President George W. Bush in Washington’s “war on terrorism” following the September 11 attacks. offered to cooperate.

In a country little known for its flamboyant rulers, he was considered to have a more colorful personality than his successors. He memorably sang Elvis Presley at the One World Summit and went swimming on the Hawaiian beach.

In his later years, he retired from government and was rarely seen in public. But even though he’s been less visible online, he’s become an unlikely subject of viral Internet memes.

Many Chinese people have affectionately caricatured his iconic oversized glasses and compared his appearance to that of a frog. Young fans called themselves “toad worshippers”.

Jiang’s successor in the presidency, Hu Jintao – who apparently skipped last month’s CCP conference – and Xi Jinping are due to attend his funeral, according to a letter published by the state-backed Global Times.

But the letter states that foreign leaders and governments will not be invited to the event. The funeral committee said the decision was in line with “Chinese custom”.

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