Jiang Zemin, former President of China, has passed away. He was 96 years old.
On Wednesday, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party announced the news of his death. It stated that he had developed leukemia and died of multiple organ failure in Shanghai.
Jiang was China’s top leader for nearly 10 years from March 1993 to March 2003. His time in office has been noted for driving China’s economic growth to its highest levels. He also oversaw the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China in 1997.
Jiang reached the top position as a compromise candidate a few years after the 1989 student uprising. He was one of only six post-1949 Chinese leaders who had accumulated so much political influence that he was also called the “Supreme Leader”.
Chattering and smiling, Jiang was sometimes mistaken for his light weight. He was known for bursting into song and his outspoken love of Hollywood movies.
His political philosophy, enshrined in China’s 2002 constitution, was known as the “Three Represents”. He positioned the Communist Party as representing advanced productive forces, advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the majority of the Chinese people.
Jiang has rarely been seen in public since July 2011, when rumors circulated of his death. This rumor was reported as fact by TV Asia, the second free-to-air broadcaster in Hong Kong at the time. The station was fined by the territory’s media regulator and the false reporting contributed to the broadcaster’s slow slide until its closure in 2016.
A letter to the party, army, and Chinese people described Jiang as “an outstanding leader of high prestige who is recognized by the entire party, the entire army, and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups, a great Marxist, a great proletarian revolutionary, statesman, military strategist, diplomat, and tested communist fighter.” For a long time, and an outstanding leader of the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” according to RTHK’s translation in Hong Kong.