February 5, 2023

He presided over the nation’s rise as a global manufacturer, the return of Hong Kong and Macao from Britain and Portugal and the achievement of a long-cherished dream: winning the competition to host the Olympic Games after an earlier rejection.

A former soap factory manager, Jiang capped his career with the communist era’s first orderly succession, handing over his post as party leader in 2002 to Hu Jintao, who assumed the presidency the following year.

Jiang was born August 17, 1926 in Yangzhou, a wealthy eastern city. Official biographies downplay his family’s middle-class background, emphasising instead his uncle and adoptive father, Jiang Shangqing, an early revolutionary who was killed in battle in 1939.

During the handover ceremony from Hong Kong to Chinese rule, July 1, 1997, Jiang Zemin, Chinese President, shakes hands and is joined by Prince Charles.

Credit:Save

He He spoke fluent, but not perfect English and would read the Gettysburg Address to foreign visitors. He tried to persuade Queen Elizabeth II to sing karaoke while on a visit to Britain.

It fell to Jiang, standing beside Britain’s Prince Charles, to preside over the return of Hong Kong on July 1, 1997, symbolising the end of 150 years of European colonialism. In 1999, China received Macao, a nearby Portuguese territory.

Hong Kong was promised autonomy. It became a gateway for mainland companies to move abroad. Jiang used coercion to get Taiwan, which Beijing claims is its territory, to his advantage.

Jiang had faded from public sight and last appeared publicly alongside current and former leaders atop Beijing’s Tiananmen gate at a 2019 military parade celebrating the party’s 70th anniversary in power. He Last month, he was absent at a major party congress where former leaders were given seats as a token of appreciation for their service.

He His two sons, and Wang Yeping, his wife, are his surviving children. Wang Yeping worked in government bureaucracies as an administrator for state industries.

AP

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