Jiang Zemin, the former president of China, died on Wednesday at 96 years old. Zemin came to power after the Tiananmen Square protests and presided over a time of vast economic growth in China. His death comes as the country faces some of its most serious protests since Tiananmen, with many demonstrating against Covid restrictions.
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 with the global economy.
But political reforms were also put to one side and he crushed internal dissent while pursuing a hardline stance on Taiwan. 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. He was also keen to ensure that his position within the Communist Party was secure, and came up with his own political ideology – the Three Represents theory – in an attempt to modernise the party.