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Home World News Washington Post World News China holds Jiang Zemin funeral at a difficult time for leaders

China holds Jiang Zemin funeral at a difficult time for leaders

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Top Chinese Communist Party officials gathered in Beijing on Tuesday for a memorial service to honor former President Jiang Zemin, in a show of unity and strength at a time when Chinese leader Xi Jinping is experiencing widespread frustration over his strict coronavirus restrictions and iron-thumb rule.

On Monday, a funeral ceremony was held at a military hospital in Beijing for Jiang, who led China through a period of rapid economic development from 1989 to 2002. leaders are buried.

The ceremony on Tuesday morning in the towering Great Hall of the People in central Beijing marks the end of a week of national mourning. Chinese state media has reported that the country’s stock markets will be suspended for three minutes as air raid sirens blare and people honk their horns.

News of Jiang’s death on November 30, from leukemia and multiple organ failure at the age of 96, came as Chinese security forces crack down on frustrated and mostly young urban residents who took to the streets in more than a dozen cities mainly to protest against “zero”. covid” policies, but also Xi’s repressive policies.

In China, the death of former President Jiang comes at an uncertain time

Chinese authorities have barely acknowledged the biggest expression of public discontent since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. But a gradual easing of coronavirus testing and quarantine requirements has accelerated in recent days.

Historically, the deaths of former senior leaders have often been an unsettling time in Chinese politics, as internal divisions within the party elite grow and public grievances are expressed with the current leadership. The deaths of Prime Minister Zhou Enlai in 1976 and General Secretary Hu Yaobang in 1989 fueled both student protests and calls for deeper reforms.

But since the evening of June 3 and the morning of June 4, 1989, when the People’s Liberation Army used tanks and bullets to drive protesters from Tiananmen Square and the surrounding streets of Beijing, the party has been determined to avoid similar crises.

Jiang, who was chosen as a compromise candidate by Deng Xiaoping and hardliners during the 1989 unrest, led a campaign of patriotic education to teach schoolchildren of all ages to love the party, and waged an ongoing crackdown on Tiananmen leaders.

At the same time, he led an effort to rebuild China’s post-carnage image globally and continued economic change and the gradual opening of China’s markets to the world, culminating in its entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001.

A more pragmatic Xi ​​Jinping launches a global charm offensive for China

Throughout the process of internationalization, however, Jiang continued to openly reject Western-style multi-party democracy and warned of “hostile forces” seeking to undermine the party’s rule – a line often used under Xi, including during the recent wave of discontent.

Despite Jiang’s tougher side, his death created a certain nostalgia for a leader who could be spontaneous and showed a deep interest in the Western world. He was known to be able to recite the Gettysburg Address from memory in English.

Jiang’s eldest son, Jiang Mianheng, a physicist and head of ShanghaiTech University, led the proceedings Monday, holding a portrait of his father and hugging Xi.

Current and former senior leaders, including Hu Jintao, who led the country between Jiang and Xi, paid their last respects to Jiang before he was cremated.

Hu’s sudden departure midway through the final day of the 20th National Party Congress in October sparked widespread speculation about both his health and his relationship with Xi, who had just secured a norm-defying third term as leader and favored the top leadership of Hu protégés in of his own lieutenants.

Official footage from Monday’s ceremony shows Hu walking past funeral wreaths unassisted.



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