November 30, (THEWILL) – Former Chinese leader and General Secretary of the country’s ruling Communist Party, Jiang Zemin, has died at the age of 96.
Jiang died from leukaemia and multiple organ failure in Shanghai at 12:13 p.m. local time, state news agency, Xinhua, announced.
Jiang was a divisive and colourful figure at the forefront of political life for 15 years. Even after retirement, analysts said he exercised influence and in his last years, served as a counterweight to China’s current leader, Xi Jinping.
Jiang got his break to be party leader in the aftermath of the chaos of the student-led protests centred on Tiananmen Square, in 1989.
China was a pariah. Jiang was tasked with restoring stability within a divided Communist Party and rehabilitating the image of a government that had ordered the military to fire its own citizens.
In a 2000 interview, CBS journalist, Mike Wallace, called Jiang “a dictator, an authoritarian”, and Jiang objected.
“Very frankly speaking, I don’t agree with your point. Your way of describing what things are like in China is as absurd as what the Arabian Nights may sound like”, the Chinese leader said in English.