Jiang Zemin

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Jiāng Zémín (Traditional Chinese: 江澤民, Simplified Chinese: 江泽民 Wade-Giles: Chiang Tse-min; born August 17, 1926) is a politician and statesman in the People's Republic of China. Regarded as the "core of the third generation" of Communist Party of China leaders, his theory of the Three Represents has been written into the party's constitution.


Jiang was a member of the Communist student underground after participation in the nation-wide university movement in 1947, achieving party membership in 1946, and graduated from Shanghai Jiaotong University. A mechanical engineer, Jiang received his training at the Stalin Automobile Works in Moscow in the 1950s. Considered very urbane and worldly for a Chinese Communist leader, the former Ambassador to Romania and Mayor of Shanghai, China's most cosmopolitan city, is fluent in Romanian and Russian; and capable of engaging foreign dignitaries with his grounding in Japanese, French, and English language and literature.


Jiang was a compromise candidate chosen by Deng Xiaoping, Li Peng, Chen Yun, and the retired elders on March 27, 1993 to replace the more liberal Zhao Ziyang, who was considered too conciliatory to student protestors. Although not directly involved with the crackdown, he was elevated to central party positions after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 for his role in averting similar protests in Shanghai.

At the 16th Party Congress, the then 76-year-old Jiang was reelected Chairman of the Central Military Commission(since 1990). At the 16th Party Congress in 2002, Hu Jintao assumed Jiang's title as party chief, becoming the new General Secretary of the Communist Party. Hu succeeded Jiang as President of the People's Republic of China on March 15, 2003.

16th Party Congress

Jiang Zemin (foreground) and Hu Jintao (background)

In Jiang stepped down from this all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China to make way for a younger “fourth generation” of leadership led by Hu Jintao. Jiang remained chairman of the Central Military Commission, and six out of the nine new members of Standing Committee, Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin, Zeng Qinghong, Huang Ju, Wu Guanzheng, and Li Changchun are linked to Jiang's "Shanghai Clique" and considered his “protégés”. The 22-member Politburo is elected by the Party's central committee.

Since the Sixteenth Party Congress, Jiang has mantained a low profile and refrained from making public statements. He was conspicously silent during the SARS crisis especially when compared to the very public profile of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao. Although many expected Jiang to maintain continuing influence, his influence on Chinese policy has not been apparent. It has been argued that the institutional arrangements left by the Sixteenth Congress have actually left Jiang in a position where he cannot exercise much influence. Although many of the members of the Politburo Standing Committee are associated with him, the Standing Committee does not have command authority over the civilian bureaucracy. Furthermore, his positions as Chairman of the Central Military Commission is limited by the fact that most of the members of the CMC are professional military, and there was an extraordinary article in the Liberation Daily which argued against forming two centers and was taken as a sign that the military did not want Jiang to exercise policies independent from those of his successors. Finally, while Deng Xiaoping was only one of several leaders of his generation who attempted to influence political affairs after their retirement, others within the third generation of Chinese leadership, most notably Zhu Rongji have pointed refused to become involved in current political issues.

Jiang's Legacy

Once derided as a "flower vase" compromise candidate anointed by the elders, Jiang has emerged as the leading Chinese Communist cadre and Deng's replacement. Under his leadership, Mainland China has sustained an average of 8% GDP growth annually, achieving one of the world's highest rate of per capita economic growth, if not the highest. This was mostly achieved by continuing the process of a de-facto transition to a market economy with strong Party control remaining. Jiang's legacy is also cemented by the PRC's successful bids to join the World Trade Organization and host the Summer Olympics. Jiang's Three Represents was also written into the Party's constitution, along with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, and Deng Xiaoping Theory at the 16th Party Congress.

At the same time he has been criticized by human rights groups for not continuing political reform. Jiang acted to maintain the Communist Party's strong control over the vast country, which the party has cited as necessary to maintain order and stability in the vast, rapidly changing country. Since 1999, the state has campaigned against the Falun Gong movement, arresting leaders and breaking up demonstrations, despite protests by human rights groups.

In addition, he has also come under quiet criticism from within the Communist Party of China for ignoring the widening gap between rich and poor in China and for ignoring those who economic reform has left behind.

See also: Politics of China, History of the People's Republic of China

External link

  • Life Story of Jiang Zemin (from the People's Daily)


Preceded by:
Zhao Ziyang
General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Followed by:
Hu Jintao