Late Chinese leader Jiang hailed at memorial service

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s communist leaders on Tuesday praised the late leader Jiang Zemin as a staunch Marxist-Leninist who oversaw their country’s rapid economic rise while maintaining rigid party control over society.
President and party leader Xi Jinping praised jiang in an hour-long speech at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing as senior officials and military brass stood to attention.
Xi recalled Jiang’s long political career, highlighting his role in maintaining political stability by alluding to Jiang’s rise to the rank of leader just before the army’s bloody crackdown on the pro-democracy movement led by students in 1989 and centered on Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
Jiang died at 96, just days after China’s biggest street protests since 1989, sparked by anger over draconian COVID-19 restrictions. Acting to quell the protests, authorities flooded the streets of the city with security personnel and an unknown number of people were arrested.
Those present at Tuesday’s memorial observed a three-minute silence and trading was halted on county stock exchanges.
On Monday, the state broadcaster CCTV showed Xi, his predecessor Hu Jintao and others bowing before Jiang’s coffin at a military hospital in Beijing before his body was sent for cremation at Babaoshan Cemetery, where many Chinese leaders are buried.
Jiang brought China out of diplomatic isolation during the 1989 crackdown and backed economic reforms that spurred a decade of explosive growth. The economy has slowed as it matures and faces an aging population, trade sanctions, high unemployment and the fallout from lockdowns and other anti-COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Xi.
An engineer by training and former leader of China’s largest city, Shanghai, Jiang served as president for a decade and led the ruling Communist Party for 13 years until 2002. After succeeding reformist leader Deng Xiaoping, he oversaw the handover of Hong Kong to the British. reign in 1997 and Beijing’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001.
Jiang died of leukemia and multiple organ failure on Nov. 30 in Shanghai, state media reported. The party declared him a “great proletarian revolutionary” and a “long-proven communist fighter”.
Hu’s appearance was his first public appearance since October 22, when he was unexpectedly guided off stage at the closing ceremony of the Communist Party’s national congress.
No official explanation has been given, and speculation over his abrupt departure ranges from a health crisis to a signal of protest from the 79-year-old former leader against Xi, who removed term limits from his post and appointed loyalists in all high-level positions. .
In Hong Kong, officials, lawmakers and judges observed three minutes of silence on Tuesday morning.
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange did not halt trading, but its external screens in downtown Exchange Square stopped showing data for three minutes. China’s gold and silver exchange, also in Hong Kong, briefly suspended trading to mark the occasion.
An official memorial for Jiang drew large crowds over the weekend, mostly older Hong Kongers who saw Hong Kong’s transition from British rule to Chinese rule. The handover was made with China’s promise that Hong Kong would maintain its own social, economic and legal systems for 50 years.
A sweeping crackdown on free speech and assembly, electoral reforms that effectively eliminated political opposition, and the imposition of a draconian national security law under Xi have emptied most of the framework’s substance.” one country, two systems” as promised under Jiang.


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