Musician, singer and multilingual speaker

The late Chinese President Jiang Zemin won the admiration of world leaders with his wit

  • Jiang Zemin brushes his hair before the start of a session of the ruling party congress in Beijing.


  • Jiang Zemin passed away on November 30 at the age of 96.


  • Zimin with the late Queen Elizabeth II.

    From the source


Translated and prepared by: Awad Khairi, for “The Guardian”, “CNN” and “The Wall Street Journal” /

On November 30, China bid farewell to one of its most prominent symbols and contemporary leaders, former President Jiang Zemin, who died at the age of 96.

Jiang succeeded in leading his country out of isolation, supporting economic reforms that led to a decade of explosive growth, and was a surprising choice to lead the divided Communist Party after the unrest of 1989, as he revived market-oriented reforms, and succeeded in restoring Hong Kong from British rule in 1989. 1997, and his country entered the World Trade Organization in 2001.

But even as China opened outward, Jiang's government cracked down on dissent, imprisoning human rights, labor and democracy activists and banning the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which the ruling party saw as a threat to its monopoly on power.

Jiang renounced his official title in 2004 but remained a behind-the-scenes force in the wrangling that led to the rise of the current president, Xi Jinping, who took power in 2012.

In October 2022, rumors circulated that Jiang might be in failing health after missing a ruling party conference.

leader to unite the nation

Jiang was about to retire as Shanghai Party leader in 1989 when the then Chinese President, Deng Xiaoping, handpicked him to unite the party and the nation.

He succeeded Zhao Ziyang, who was dismissed by Deng because of his sympathy with the student-led protesters in Tiananmen Square, and he remained under house arrest until his death in 2005, and for 13 years he remained General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, the most powerful position in China, and allowed capitalists to affiliate with the ruling party and attract foreign investment After China joined the World Trade Organization.

Where China was able to overtake Germany and then Japan to become the second largest economy after the United States.

He behaves himself

His unparalleled charisma set him apart from traditional Chinese leaders who are known for their restraint and for acting calm and reasonable in public.

Given Jiang's quick wit and free reaction, the camera recorded a large number of unforgettable moments for him.

When he met Spain's King Juan Carlos in 1996, he pulled out a comb to style his hair at a reception as if nobody was watching.

During his 2000 interview with CBS reporter Mike Wallace, which remains one of the longest and most frank conversations between a Chinese politician and an American reporter to date, he performed a Chinese folk song and delivered part of a speech given by the late American leader, Abraham Lincoln, about the Battle of Gettysburg. .

Multiple musical talents

Jiang is a man of many musical talents.

Growing up, he learned the Chinese flute and a traditional two-stringed, bowed instrument called the erhu.

He learned all of this by himself without a teacher, and was also good at playing the piano, ukulele, organ, and Hawaiian guitar.

He has won the admiration of world leaders with his impromptu songs and dance performances at diplomatic events.

While serving as mayor of Shanghai, he danced with then-mayor of San Francisco Dianne Feinstein and sang "When We Were Kids" in 1982. He performed the song "Love Me Tender" by the late American singer, Elvis Presley during his official visit to the Philippines in 1996 and also sang the song. Herself at a state banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in 2001 held in honor of the visit of the late US President, George W. Bush, and performed an impromptu duet of "O Sole Mio" before twirling across the dance floor with then-First Lady Laura Bush.

On one of his visits to Britain, he tried to persuade Queen Elizabeth II to sing karaoke.


Jiang was fluent in several foreign languages ​​including English, Russian, German and Romanian, albeit with a noticeable Chinese accent.

He gave a speech in English at Harvard University in 2000. He wrote a book urging leading cadres to make an effort to learn foreign languages ​​so that they can communicate with foreigners so that the world can understand more about China. This book was published by the central government in 2011. His passion for foreign languages ​​contrasts And its openness to Western culture has been stark with China's growing refusal to teach English in recent years as the government steps up its campaign against Western influence.

Jiang was awarded a political prize when Beijing was chosen as the site for the 2008 Summer Olympics after an earlier attempt failed.

A former director of the soap factory, Jiang capped his career with the first orderly succession of the communist era, handing over his position as party leader in 2002 to Hu Jintao, who also assumed the title of ceremonial chairman the following year.

his backgrounds

Jiang was born on August 17, 1926 in the wealthy eastern city of Yangzhou.

Official biographies downplay his middle-class family background, highlighting instead his uncle and adoptive father, Jiang Shangqing, a revolutionary killed in action in 1939. After graduating from the Electrical Machinery Department of Jiaotong University in Shanghai in 1947, Jiang rose to Career ranks in these state-controlled industries, working in a food factory, then working in soap making and becoming a clerk in China's largest car factory.

Like many technocratic officials, Jiang spent part of the extreme Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976 working on a farm.

But he later resumed his career, and in 1983 he was appointed Minister of the Electronics Industry.

And when he served as mayor of Shanghai in 1985-89, he impressed foreign visitors as representative of a new breed of outward-looking Chinese leaders.

A staunch political fighter, Jiang defied expectations that his tenure in command would be short, but consolidated his power by promoting members of his "Shanghai faction" and giving the military double-digit annual spending increases.

Jiang was the first major Chinese leader to die outside Beijing since the Communist victory in 1949. His body was sent to the capital by air and placed in a military hospital.

He was bid farewell to Xi, his predecessor Hu Jintao, and other senior officials before his body was taken to the Babushan Revolutionary Cemetery in western Beijing for cremation.

• Jiang renounced his official title in 2004, but remained a behind-the-scenes force in the wrangling that led to the rise of current President Xi Jinping, who took power in 2012.

• Jiang has unparalleled charisma, which sets him apart from traditional Chinese leaders who are known for their restraint and for behaving calmly and judiciously in public.

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