Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin Dies Age 96


Jiang Zemin, the Chinese communist leader who paved the way for the country’s emergence as a global superpower, has died.


According to a Wednesday, November 30 news release by state-run Xinhua news agency Zemin was aged 96.


Zemin died of leukemia and associated multiple organ failure on Wednesday in Shanghai. He is survived by his wife, two sons and two grandchildren.

After being shunned by the West following the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, China – with Jiang as its top leader – successfully reintegrated itself into the international community by regaining sovereignty over Hong Kong, winning the bid to host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and, perhaps most importantly, joining the World Trade Organization.


The former chief of the ruling Communist Party and state president  was handpicked in 1989 by then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping to head the party after the bloody military suppression of the pro-democracy movement nationwide that same year led to the ouster of Zhao Ziyang, the previous party chief sympathetic to the protesters.


Starting in late 2002, Jiang handed over titles to his successor, Hu Jintao, first as the party boss and then as president. But he clung to his military chief post until 2005 and, even after his official retirement, continued to exert political influence from behind the scenes, including over the selection of China’s current leader Xi Jinping .

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