Beijing, 30 November 2022 (dpa/MIA) – Former Chinese state and communist party leader Jiang Zemin has died at the age of 96, according to state news agency Xinhua on Wednesday.
The former president died at noon on Wednesday as a result of leukaemia and after multiple organ failure, Xinhua reported. All attempts to save him had failed, it added.
There had been rumours that the former leader had died or was unwell in recent weeks.
Following the announcement of his death, state media hailed “Comrade Jiang Zemin” as an “outstanding leader with high prestige” and called him a “great Marxist and a great proletarian revolutionary”.
He was general secretary of the Communist Party from 1989 to 2002 and president from 1993 to 2003.
After the bloody suppression of the democracy movement on June 4, 1989, and the overthrow of the reformist party leader Zhao Ziyang, Jiang – then mayor of Shanghai – was elevated to the post of new party leader.
But, although he was China’s head of state and chairperson of the Communist Party for 13 years, Jiang was never known for his vision, but rather acted as an administrator and compromise figure for different currents in the party.
Jiang seemed to have only reached the peak of his power after the changeover in 2002 to the leadership generation headed by Hu Jintao. After his retirement from public office, the former leader still exercised considerable influence, pulling the strings behind the scenes for a long time.
He was known then as the “strong man” in the background, while the people referred to him as as “the senior” (Zhangzhe).
However, new state and party leader Xi Jinping was not part of his sphere of influence. Many of Jiang’s followers fell victim to Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, which has seen many high-profile prison sentences. Critics accused Xi of getting rid of his opponents.
Born on August 17, 1926, Jiang was known for his love of poetry. He liked to brag to state guests about his knowledge of Goethe and Shakespeare.