Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who guided country’s rise, dies aged 96

    Former President of China Jiang Zemin, who supported economic reforms leading years of growth in the country, has died at the age of 96. Jiang Zemin crushed the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. He died from leukemia and multiple organ failure in Shanghai at 12:13 pm today.

    Following the death of Jiang Zemin, flags at major Chinese Communist Party and government buildings in the country will be flown half-mast, state media has said. The order, which would contain Jiang Zemin’s funeral arrangement committee and the date of his funeral, will be announced later.

    Leading a divided Communist Party after the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, Jiang Zemin saw China through history-making changes. The changes included a revival of market-oriented reforms, the return of Hong Kong from British rule in 1997 and Beijing’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001.

    As the leader of the party and the country, Jiang Zemin’s government stamped out dissent inside the country which included jailing human rights, labor and pro-democracy activists. The government also banned the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

    Jiang Zemin gave up his last official title in 2004 but remained a force behind the scenes in the wrangling that led to the rise of current President Xi Jinping, who took power in 2012.

    Xi Jinping has stuck to Jiang’s mix of economic liberalization and strict political controls.

    Jiang Zemin was the Communist Party general secretary for 13 years. As the general secretary, Jiang Zemin guided China’s rise to global economic power as he welcomed capitalists into the Communist Party. He helped pulling in foreign investment after China joined the WTO.

    (with agency inputs)

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