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Friday, Jan 27, 2023

China bids farewell to influential ex-leader Jiang Zemin

China bids farewell to influential ex-leader Jiang Zemin

China's Communist Party leaders and military elite paid their respects to former leader Jiang Zemin, who is credited with having propelled China on to the world stage after 1989. Jiang died as new protests took hold.
China bid farewell to former leader Jiang Zemin with a state memorial service on Tuesday.

Jiang was president for a decade, from 1993, and led the ruling Communist Party for 13 years from 1989 until 2002.

Jiang, who died on November 30 from leukemia and multiple organ failures, was 96.

His death came amid political protests in major cities on mainland China, a rarity outside of Hong Kong since the Tianamen Square massacre of 1989 that marked the start of his period in power. 

President Xi hails Jiang Zemin's leadership

President Xi Jinping delivered the eulogy in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, hailing Jiang's decisive leadership during political turmoil, a tacit reference to the 1989 massacre.

Xi said at the memorial service that Jiang led the Communist Party through ups and downs.

"Comrade Jiang Zemin emphasized that our party is leading the people in a great struggle to build socialist modernization, and inevitably will encounter many complex situations," Xi said.

"The severe situation at home and abroad and the confrontation and struggle between different social systems and different ideological systems often test every member of our party," he added.

Jiang is credited with having led China through a period of economic growth, ushering in a period of rapid industrialization that propelled the country on to the world stage.

State ceremony in divided times

China's political and military elite were also present at the state memorial service, with everyone having observed three minutes of silence to honor the former leader at the state ceremony.

On Monday, state broadcaster CCTV showed Xi, his predecessor Hu Jintao and others bowing before Jiang's body covered in a party flag at a military hospital in Beijing. They paid their respects in a smaller ceremony at the hospital before the state memorial service Tuesday.

The former president's body was later taken to Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing, where many senior Chinese leaders are buried. Crowds stood silently as his coffin was driven amid high security.

Often regarded as the leader who integrated China with the international order following the bloody 1989 crackdown, Jiang oversaw the handover of Hong Kong from British rule in 1997 and Beijing's entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001.

The party obituary declared Jiang as "a great proletarian revolutionary" and "long-tested Communist fighter."

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