Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese leader who came to power after the Tiananmen Square crackdown, has died at the age of 96.
State media said he died in Shanghai shortly after 12:00 local time.
Jiang Zemin led the era of China’s large-scale opening up and rapid growth.
His death comes at a time when China is experiencing its worst protests since Tiananmen Square, with many demonstrating against Covid restrictions.
A Chinese Communist Party statement said he died of leukemia and multiple organ failure.
He was also described as “an excellent leader with great prestige” and “a man who fought the communists for many years.”
State media outlets such as the Global Times and Xinhua News Agency decorated his homepage in black and white and paid tribute to him.
State broadcaster CCTV praised his role after the 1989 bloody crackdown on protesters in and around Tiananmen Square.
“In the midst of the severe political turmoil in China in the spring and summer of 1989, Comrade Jiang Zemin reiterated the CPC Central Committee’s commitment to oppose the disturbance, safeguard the power of the socialist state, and protect the fundamental interests of the people. We supported and acted on the right decision,” he said.
The incident has isolated China internationally and triggered a bitter power struggle between reactionary hardliners and reformists at the top of the Communist Party.
As a result, Jiang, who was initially treated as a small official, was promoted to a high position. He was chosen as a compromise leader in hopes of uniting hardliners and liberals.
Under his leadership, a mighty economic force was built, the Communist Party came to power, and China rose to the top of the world’s great powers.