China’s former leader Jiang Zemin, who steered the country through a transformational era from the late 1980s and into the new millennium, died Wednesday at the age of 96, state news agency Xinhua said.

Jiang Zemin and ex-chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. Photo: GovHK.

Jiang took power in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square crackdown and led the world’s most populous nation towards its emergence as a powerhouse on the global stage.

“Jiang Zemin passed away due to leukemia and multiple organ failure in Shanghai at 12:13 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2022, at the age of 96, it was announced on Wednesday,” Xinhua reported.

When Jiang replaced Deng Xiaoping as leader in 1989, China was still in the early stages of economic modernisation.

In order from left: Jiang Zemin, Li Peng, Qiao Shi, Deng Xiaoping. File photo.

By the time he retired as president in 2003, China was a member of the World Trade Organization, Beijing had secured the 2008 Olympics, and the country was well on its way to superpower status.

Analysts say Jiang and his “Shanghai Gang” faction continued to exert influence over communist politics long after he left the top job. 

He is survived by his wife Wang Yeping and two sons.

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