Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin dies, aged 96

Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

State media reported on Wednesday, November 30, that former Chinese President Jiang Zemin had died at the age of 96.

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The funeral committee has been formed, with Chinese leader Xi Jinping as the chairman, and other members including Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Li Qiang and hundreds of other Chinese political figures.

China's media reported on Tuesday that the Communist Party Central Committee, the National People's Congress, the State Council, the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and the Central Military Commission sent a letter to the Party, the military, and the nation.

The aforementioned letter stated that, “with great sadness, we inform our Party, the army, and the nation that Comrade Jiang Zemin suffered from leukemia as well as multiple organ failure and died in Shanghai at 12:13 p.m. on November 30, 2022. He passed away at the age of 96.”

Born in July 1926, Jiang began his working life as a deputy chief mechanic at the Number One Car Plant in Changchun, in China's northeast, before being plucked from obscurity to head the Communist Party after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

Jiang's death was announced amid China's largest civil unrest since Tiananmen Square. Prior to the announcement, the former leader of the Chinese Communist Party had not been heard from for over a month, and he had not attended the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, in which Xi was reelected to a third term as president.

The news of Jaing’s passing is now dominating the Chinese media's news cycle, and Chinese social media users have also been sharing the coincidence of former leaders passing during history defining major civil unrests, alluding to the death of China’s premier Zhou Enlai in the midst of the 1976 Tiananmen unrest, and the passing of ex-president Hu Yaobang during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre.

Rumors also run amuck of the possibility that Jiang had passed much earlier than the Chinese official’s announcement, as evidenced by his prolonged lack of activity and appearance, and was announced by the Chinese communist party as a way to divert from the current civil unrest across the country, the largest since Tiananmen. Any mention of this theory however, have all been taken down from the internet space within China.