China’s former leader Jiang Zemin, who came to power after the Tiananmen Square protests, has died at 96.
State media said he died just after noon on Wednesday.
One of the major figures of Chinese history in recent decades, he presided over a time where China opened up on a vast scale and saw high-speed growth.
His death comes as China sees some of its most serious protests since Tiananmen, with many demonstrating against Covid restrictions.
Jiang rose to power after the bloody 1989 crackdown on protestors in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, which led to China being ostracised internationally.
The event sparked a bitter power struggle at the top of China’s Communist Party between hard-line reactionaries and reformers.
It led to Jiang, who had originally been seen as a plodding bureaucrat, being elevated to high office. He was chosen as a compromise leader, in the hope he would unify hardliners and more liberal elements.
Under his stewardship, a formidable economy was forged, the Communists tightened their grip on power, and China took its place at the top table of world powers.
He oversaw the peaceful handover of Hong Kong in 1997, and China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 which intertwined the country’s economy with that of the international community.
But political reforms were also put to one side and he was criticised for the heavy-handed crackdown on the religious sect Falun Gong in 1999, which was seen as a threat to the Communist Party.
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