Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin has passed away. He was 96 years old at the time of his death. He came to power after the country’s historic Tiananmen Square protests.
He died shortly after noon local time on Wednesday, state media reported.
He is one of the most important figures in Chinese history in recent decades. He presided over the country at a time when China opened up to a great extent and saw high-speed growth.
His death comes amid protests against China’s severest Covid restrictions since the Tiananmen protests.
He came to power in 1989 after a bloody crackdown on protesters in and around Tiananmen Square in Beijing. This resulted in China being ostracized internationally.
The incident sparked a bitter power struggle between hard-line reactionaries and reformers at the top of the Chinese Communist Party.
The Communist Party then placed Jiang in the leadership seat. He was originally seen as a persuasive bureaucrat promoted to high office. But he was chosen as an uncompromising leader in the hope that he would unite hardline and liberal elements.
Under his watch, China developed a powerful economy, the Communists seized power, and China rose to the top of the world power table.
He oversaw the peaceful handover of Hong Kong in 1997 and China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, which brought the country’s economy into the international community.
But political reforms were also sidelined, and in 1999 he was criticized for cracking down on the religious sect Falun Gong. This incident was seen as a threat to the Communist Party.