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Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin died on Wednesday at the age of 96 of leukaemia and multiple organ failure

Jiang died at 12:13 p.m. in his hometown of Shanghai, according to the official Xinhua news agency, which published a statement to the Chinese people announcing his death from the ruling Communist Party, parliament, Cabinet, and military.

Jiang Zemin was a Chinese politician who served as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1989 to 2002, chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2004, and president of China from 1993 to 2003. Since 1989, Jiang has represented the “core of the third generation” of CCP leaders.

Jiang unexpectedly came to power as a compromise candidate during the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations, when he succeeded Zhao Ziyang as CCP general secretary after Zhao was removed for his support for the student movement. As the “Eight Elders'” engagement in Chinese politics declined, Jiang strengthened his influence to become the country’s “paramount leader” throughout the 1990s. 

In response to Deng Xiaoping’s southern trip in 1992, Jiang formally coined the phrase “socialist market economy” in his speech at the 14th CCP National Congress later that year, which accelerated “opening up and reform.” Under Jiang’s leadership, China saw significant economic growth, witnessed the repatriation of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom in 1997 and Macau from Portugal in 1999, and strengthened its connections with the rest of the world, all while the Communist Party maintained tight control over the state.

However, Jiang received criticism for human rights violations, which led to the suppression of the Falun Gong movement. In 2002, the CCP constitution was amended to include his contributions to party theory, known as the “Three Represents.” Jiang progressively relinquished his formal leadership positions from 2002 to 2005 (being superseded in these positions by Hu Jintao), although he continued to exert influence until much later. At the age of 96, Jiang became the PRC’s longest-living paramount leader, surpassing Deng Xiaoping on February 14, 2019. Jiang died of leukaemia and severe organ failure on November 30, 2022. 

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