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Ex-president Jiang Zemin who transformed China dies at 96

  • 30 Nov 2022

Jiang Zemin became the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in 1989 and went on to become the president of the Asian country in 1993.

He is survived by his wife Wang Yeping and two sons. ( AFP Archive )

China's former leader Jiang Zemin, who steered the country through a transformational era from the late 1980s and into the new millennium, has died.

"Jiang Zemin passed away due to leukaemia and multiple organ failure in Shanghai at 12:13 pm on November 30, 2022, at the age of 96, it was announced on Wednesday," state news agency Xinhua reported.

Jiang took power in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square crackdown and led the world's most populous nation towards its emergence as a powerhouse on the global stage.

When Jiang replaced Deng Xiaoping as a leader in 1989, China was still in the early stages of economic modernisation.

Analysts say Jiang and his "Shanghai clique" faction continued to influence communist politics long after he left the top job.

He is survived by his wife Wang Yeping and two sons.

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Historic reforms

A surprise choice to lead a divided Communist Party after the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, Jiang saw China through history-making changes including a revival of market-oriented reforms, the return of Hong Kong from British rule in 1997 and Beijing’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Jiang gave up his last official title in 2004 but remained a force behind the scenes in the wrangling that led to the rise of President Xi Jinping, who took power in 2012. 

Xi has stuck to Jiang’s mix of economic liberalisation and strict political controls.

Initially seen as a transitional leader, Jiang was drafted on the verge of retirement with a mandate from then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping to pull together the party and nation.

He presided over the nation’s rise as a global manufacturer, the return of Hong Kong and Macao from Britain and Portugal and the achievement of a long-cherished dream: winning the competition to host the Olympic Games after an earlier rejection.

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