Jiang Zemin

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Jiang Zemin
江泽民
File:Jiang Zemin 2002.jpg
Jiang in 2002
General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party
In office
24 June 1989 – 15 November 2002
Preceded by Zhao Ziyang
Succeeded by Hu Jintao
5th President of the People's Republic of China
In office
27 March 1993 – 15 March 2003
Premier Li Peng
Zhu Rongji
Vice President Rong Yiren
Hu Jintao
Preceded by Yang Shangkun
Succeeded by Hu Jintao
Chairman of the Central Military Commission
In office
Party Commission:
9 November 1989 – 19 September 2004
State Commission:
19 March 1990 – 8 March 2005
Deputy
Preceded by Deng Xiaoping
Succeeded by Hu Jintao
Personal details
Born (1926-08-17)17 August 1926
Kiangtu County, Yangzhou, Kiangsu, China
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Shanghai, China
Political party Communist Party of China
Spouse(s) Wang Yeping (m. Error: Invalid time.)
Children Jiang Mianheng
Jiang Miankang
Alma mater
Profession Electrical engineer
Signature Jiang Zemin's signature


Jiang Zemin
File:Jiang Zemin (Chinese characters).svg
"Jiang Zemin" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese characters
Simplified Chinese 江泽民
Traditional Chinese 江澤民

Jiang Zemin[lower-alpha 1] (17 August 1926 – 30 November 2022) was a Chinese politician who served as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1989 to 2002, as chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2004, and as president of China from 1993 to 2003. Jiang represented the "core of the third generation" of CCP leaders since 1989.

Jiang came to power unexpectedly as a compromise candidate following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, when he replaced Zhao Ziyang as CCP general secretary after Zhao was ousted for his support for the student movement. As the involvement of the "Eight Elders"[citation needed] in Chinese politics steadily declined, Jiang consolidated his hold on power to become the "paramount leader" in the country during the 1990s.[lower-alpha 2] Urged by Deng Xiaoping's Southern Tour in 1992 to accelerate "opening up and reform"[citation needed], Jiang officially introduced the term "socialist market economy" in his speech during the 14th CCP National Congress held later that year,[1] ending a period of ideological uncertainty and economic stagnation following 1989.[citation needed]

Under Jiang's leadership, China experienced substantial economic growth with the continuation of market reforms, saw the return of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom in 1997 and Macau from Portugal in 1999 and improved its relations with the outside world, while the Communist Party maintained its tight control over the state. However, Jiang faced criticism over human rights abuses which also led to the crackdown of the Falun Gong movement. His contributions to party doctrine, known as the "Three Represents," were written into the CCP constitution in 2002. Jiang gradually vacated his official leadership titles from 2002 to 2005 (being succeeded in these roles by Hu Jintao), and continued to influence affairs until much later. At the age of 96 years, 163 days, Jiang was the longest-living paramount leader in the history of the PRC, surpassing Deng Xiaoping on 14 February 2019. On 30 November 2022, Jiang died from leukaemia complications.[2]

Background

File:JZM1947.jpg
Graduation photo of Jiang, taken in 1947.

Jiang Zemin was born in the city of Yangzhou, Jiangsu, China on 17 August 1926.[3] His ancestral home was the Jiangcun Village (江村) in Jingde County, Anhui. This was also the hometown of a number of prominent figures in Chinese academic and intellectual establishments.[4] Jiang grew up during the years of Japanese occupation. His uncle and his foster father, Jiang Shangqing, died fighting the Japanese in 1939 and is considered in Jiang Zemin's time to be a national hero. After Shangqing's death, Zemin became his male heir.[5]

Jiang attended the Department of Electrical Engineering at the National Central University in Japanese-occupied Nanjing before transferring to National Chiao Tung University (now Shanghai Jiao Tong University). He graduated there in 1947 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.[6] Jiang joined the Chinese Communist Party when he was in college.[7] After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, Jiang received his training at the Stalin Automobile Works in Moscow in the 1950s. He also worked for Changchun's First Automobile Works. He was eventually transferred to government services, where he began to rise in prominence and rank, eventually becoming a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Minister of Electronic Industries in 1983.[6]

File:JZM1962.jpg
Jiang in 1962

Rise to power

In 1985, Jiang became Mayor of Shanghai, and subsequently the Communist Party Committee secretary of Shanghai. Jiang received mixed reviews as mayor. Many of his critics dismissed him as a "flower pot", a Chinese term for someone who only seems useful, but actually gets nothing done.[8] Many credited Shanghai's growth during the period to Zhu Rongji.[9] Jiang was an ardent believer, during this period, in Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms. In an attempt to curb student discontent in 1986, Jiang recited the Gettysburg Address in English in front of a group of student protesters.[10][11]

Jiang was elevated to national politics in 1987, automatically becoming a member of the Politburo of the CCP Central Committee because it is customarily dictated that the Party secretary of Shanghai would also have a seat in the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party. In 1989, the death of Hu Yaobang catalyzed the Tiananmen Square protest,[12] and though senior party leaders agreed on the need for economic reforms, a rift emerged between "liberals" (who supported Deng's "aggressive" reforms) and "conservatives" (who wanted slower change).[13] In June, Deng Xiaoping dismissed liberal Zhao Ziyang, who was considered to be too conciliatory toward the student protestors. At the time, Jiang was the Shanghai Party secretary, the top figure in China's new economic center.[14] In an incident with the World Economic Herald, Jiang closed down the newspaper, deeming it to be harmful. The handling of the crisis in Shanghai was noticed by Beijing, and then by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. As the protests escalated and then CCP general secretary Zhao Ziyang was removed from office, Jiang was selected by the Party leaders as a compromise candidate over Tianjin's Li Ruihuan, premier Li Peng, elders Li Xiannian, Chen Yun, and the retired elders to become the new general secretary.[15] Before that, he had been considered to be an unlikely candidate.[16]

Jiang was elevated to the country's top job in 1989 with a fairly small power base inside the party, and thus, very little actual power.[7] His most reliable allies were the powerful party elders – Chen Yun and Li Xiannian. He was believed to be simply a transitional figure until a more stable successor government to Deng could be put in place. Other prominent Party and military figures like President Yang Shangkun and his brother Yang Baibing were believed to be planning a coup. Jiang used Deng Xiaoping as a back-up to his leadership in the first few years. Jiang, who was believed[17] to have a neo-conservative slant, warned against "bourgeois liberalization". Deng's belief, however, stipulated that the only solution to keeping the legitimacy of Communist rule over China was to continue the drive for modernization and economic reform, and therefore placed himself at odds with Jiang.[citation needed]

At the first meeting of the new CCP Politburo Standing Committee, after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, Jiang criticized the previous period as "hard on the economy, soft on politics" and advocated increasing political thought work.[18] Anne-Marie Brady wrote that "Jiang Zemin was a long time political cadre with a nose for ideological work and its importance. This meeting marked the beginning of a new era in propaganda and political thought work in China." Soon after, the Central Propaganda Department was given more resources and power, "including the power to go in to the propaganda-related work units and cleanse the ranks of those who had been supportive of the democracy movement."[18]

Leadership

Economic development

In the early 1990s, post-Tiananmen economic reforms by Zhu Rongji with Jiang's support had stabilized and the country was on a consistent growth trajectory. At the same time, China faced myriad economic and social problems. At Deng's state funeral in 1997, Jiang delivered the elder statesman's eulogy. Jiang had inherited a China rampant with political corruption, and regional economies growing too rapidly for the stability of the entire country. Deng's policy that "some areas can get rich before others" led to an opening wealth gap between coastal regions and the interior provinces. The unprecedented economic growth and the deregulation in a number of heavy industries led to the closing of many state-owned enterprises (SOEs), breaking the iron rice bowl and initially removing as many as 40 million jobs from SOEs.[19][20] As a result, unemployment rates skyrocketed, rising as high as 40% in some urban areas. Stock markets fluctuated greatly. The scale of rural migration into urban areas was unprecedented anywhere, and little was being done to address an ever-increasing urban-rural wealth gap. Official reports put the figure on the percentage of China's GDP being moved and abused by corrupt officials at 10%.[21] Jiang's biggest aim in the economy was stability, and he believed that a stable government with highly centralised power would be a prerequisite, choosing to postpone political reform, which in many facets of governance exacerbated the ongoing problems.[22]

Foreign policy

Jiang Zemin with U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1999.

Jiang went on a state visit to the United States in 1997, drawing various crowds in protest from the Tibet Independence Movement to supporters of the Chinese democracy movement. He made a speech at Harvard University, part of it in English, but could not escape questions on democracy and freedom. In the official summit meeting with president Bill Clinton, the tone was relaxed as they sought common ground while largely ignoring areas of disagreement. Clinton would visit China in June 1998, and vowed that China and the United States were partners in the world, and not adversaries. When American-led NATO bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999, Jiang seemed to have put up a harsh stance for show at home, but in reality only performed symbolic gestures of protest, and no solid action.[22] Jiang's foreign policy was for the most part passive and non-confrontational. A personal friend of former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien,[23] Jiang strengthened China's economic stature abroad, attempting to establish cordial relations with countries whose trade is largely confined to the American economic sphere. Despite this, serious flare-ups between China and the US during Jiang's tenure includes the NATO bombing of Serbia, and the Hainan Island incident in April 2001.[24]

Media depiction

The People's Daily and CCTV-1's 7 pm Xinwen Lianbo each had Jiang-related events as the front-page or top stories, a fact that remained until Hu Jintao's media administrative changes in 2006. Jiang appeared casual in front of Western media, and gave an unprecedented interview with Mike Wallace of CBS in 2000 at Beidaihe. He would often use foreign languages in front of the camera, albeit not always fluently. In an encounter with Hong Kong reporter Sharon Cheung in 2000 regarding the central government's apparent "imperial order" of supporting Tung Chee-hwa to seek a second term as Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Jiang scolded the Hong Kong journalists as "too simple, sometimes naive" in English.[25][26] Before he transferred power to a younger generation of leaders, Jiang had his theory of Three Represents written into the Party's constitution, alongside Marxism–Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, and Deng Xiaoping Theory at the 16th CCP Congress in 2002.[27]

Crackdown on Falun Gong

In June 1999, Jiang established an extralegal department, the 6–10 Office, to crack down on Falun Gong. Cook and Lemish state this was because Jiang was worried that the popular new religious movement was "quietly infiltrating the CCP and state apparatus."[28] On 20 July, security forces arrested thousands of Falun Gong organizers they identified as leaders.[29] The persecution that followed was characterized a nationwide campaign of propaganda, as well as the large-scale arbitrary imprisonment and coercive reeducation of Falun Gong organizers, sometimes resulting in death due to mistreatment in detention.[30][31][32]

Gradual retirement

Jiang Zemin with his wife and George W. Bush with his wife in Crawford, Texas, 25 October 2002.

In November 2002, Jiang stepped down from the powerful Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and as general secretary at the age of 76 to make way for a "fourth generation" of leadership headed by Hu Jintao, beginning a transition of power that would last several years. Hu assumed Jiang's title as party head, becoming the new general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. At the 16th Party Congress held in the autumn of 2002, observers noted at the time that six out of the nine new members of Standing Committee were considered part of Jiang's so-called "Shanghai Clique", the most prominent being vice president Zeng Qinghong, who had served as Jiang's chief of staff for many years, and vice premier Huang Ju, a former party secretary of Shanghai.[citation needed]

Although Jiang retained the chairmanship of the powerful Central Military Commission, most members of the commission were professional military men. Liberation Army Daily, a publication thought to represent the views of the CMC majority, printed an article on 11 March 2003 which quotes two army delegates as saying, "Having one center is called 'loyalty', while having two centers will result in 'problems.'" This was interpreted as a criticism of Jiang's attempt to exercise dual leadership with Hu on the model of Deng Xiaoping.[33]

Hu succeeded Jiang as CCP general secretary in November 2002. To the surprise of many observers, evidence of Jiang's continuing influence on public policy abruptly disappeared from the official media. Jiang was conspicuously silent during the SARS crisis, especially when compared to the very public profile of Hu and the newly anointed premier, Wen Jiabao. It has been argued that the institutional arrangements created by the 16th Congress have left Jiang in a position where he cannot exercise much influence.[34] Although many of the members of the Politburo Standing Committee were associated with him, the Standing Committee does not necessarily have command authority over the civilian bureaucracy.[citation needed]

On 19 September 2004, after the 4th Plenary Session of the 16th Central Committee, Jiang, at the age of 78, relinquished his post as chairman of the party's Central Military Commission, his last post in the party. Six months later in March 2005, Jiang resigned his last significant post, chairman of the Central Military Commission of the state, which marked the end of Jiang’s political career. This followed weeks of speculation that forces inside the party were pressing Jiang to step aside. Jiang's term was supposed to have lasted until 2007. Hu also succeeded Jiang as the CMC chairman, but, in an apparent political defeat for Jiang, General Xu Caihou, and not Zeng Qinghong was appointed to succeed Hu as vice chairman, as was initially speculated. This power transition formally marked the end of Jiang's era in China, which roughly lasted from 1989 to 2004.[35]

Official appearances after retirement

Jiang continued to make official appearances after giving up his last title in 2004. In China's strictly defined protocol sequence, Jiang's name always appeared immediately after Hu Jintao's and in front of the remaining sitting members of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee. In 2007, Jiang was seen with Hu Jintao on stage at a ceremony celebrating the 80th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army,[36] and toured the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution with Li Peng, Zhu Rongji, and other former senior officials.[37] On 8 August 2008, Jiang appeared at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.[38] He also stood beside Hu Jintao during the mass parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China in October 2009.[39]

Beginning in July 2011, false reports of Jiang's death began circulating on the news media outside of mainland China and on the internet.[40][41] While Jiang may indeed have been ill and receiving treatment, the rumours were denied by official sources.[42] On 9 October 2011, Jiang made his first public appearance since his premature obituary in Beijing at a celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution.[43] Jiang reappeared at the 18th Party Congress in October 2012, and took part in the 65th Anniversary banquet of the founding of the People's Republic of China in October 2014. At the banquet he sat next to Xi Jinping, who had then succeeded Hu Jintao as CCP general secretary. In September 2015, Jiang attended the parade celebrating 70 years since end of World War II; there, Jiang again sat next to Xi Jinping and Hu Jintao.[44] He appeared on 29 May 2017 at Shanghai Technology University.[45]

After Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012, Jiang's position in the protocol sequence of leaders retreated; while he was often seated next to Xi Jinping at official events, his name was often reported after all standing members of the Communist Party's Politburo.[46] Jiang reappeared at the 19th Party Congress on 18 October 2017.[47] He appeared on 29 July 2019 at the funeral of former premier Li Peng.[48][49][50] He also attended the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China mass parade in October 2019, marking his last public appearance prior to his death.[51] He did not, however, attend the 20th Party Congress in October 2022.[52]

Legacy

Jiang Zemin's inscription engraved on a stone in his hometown, Yangzhou

The policies of his successors, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, have widely been seen as efforts to address perceived imbalances and move away from a sole focus on economic growth toward a broader view of development which incorporates non-economic factors such as health and the environment.[53]

Domestically, Jiang's legacy and reputation is mixed. While some[54] people attributed the period of relative stability and growth in the 1990s to Jiang's term, others argue that Jiang did little to correct systemic imbalance and an accumulation of problems which resulted from years of breakneck-pace economic reforms, leaving the next administration facing innumerable challenges, some of which may have been too late to solve.[55]

The fact that Jiang rose to power as the direct beneficiary of the political aftermath of Tiananmen has shaped the perception of his rule. Following the Tiananmen protests, Jiang threw his support behind elder Chen Yun's conservative economic policies, but subsequently changed his allegiance to Deng Xiaoping's reform-oriented agenda following the latter's "Southern Tour". This shift was not only seen as the exercise of a political opportunist, it also sowed confusion among party loyalists in regards to what direction the party was headed or what the party truly believed in.[56] While continued economic reforms resulted in an explosion of wealth around the country, it also led to the formation of special interest groups in many sectors of the economy, and the exercise of state power without any meaningful oversight. This opened the way for the sub-optimal distribution of the fruits of growth, and an expanding culture of corruption among bureaucrats and party officials.[55]

Historian and former Xinhua journalist Yang Jisheng wrote that Jiang may well have been given a positive historical assessment had it not been for his decision to 'overstay his welcome' by remaining in the Central Military Commission post after Hu had formally assumed the party leadership. Moreover, Jiang took credit for all the gains made during the 13 years "between 1989 and 2002," which not only evoked the memories of Jiang being a beneficiary of Tiananmen, but also neglected the economic foundations laid by Deng, whose authority was still paramount until the mid-1990s. Additionally, Jiang was also criticized for his insistence on writing the "Three Represents" into the party and state constitutions (see below), which Yang called Jiang's attempt at "self-deification", i.e., that he saw himself as a visionary along the same lines as Deng and Mao. Yang contended, "The 'Three Represents' is just common sense. It is not a proper theoretical framework. It's what any ruler would tell the people to justify the continued rule of the governing party."[57]

"Three Represents"

Formally, Jiang's theory of "Three Represents" was enshrined in both Party and State constitutions as an "important thought," following in the footsteps of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory. However, the theory lacked staying power. By the time of the 17th Party Congress in 2007, the Scientific Outlook on Development had already been written into the constitution of the Communist Party, a mere five years after the Three Represents, overtaking the latter as the guiding ideology for much of Hu Jintao's term. While his successors paid lip service to "Three Represents" in official party documentation and speeches, no special emphasis was placed on the theory after Jiang left office. There was even speculation following Xi Jinping's assumption of CCP general secretary in 2012 that the Three Represents would eventually be dropped from the party's list of guiding ideologies.[58]

The Three Represents justified the incorporation of the new capitalist business class into the party, and changed the founding ideology of the Chinese Communist Party from protecting the interests of the peasantry and workers to that of the "overwhelming majority of the people", a euphemism aimed at placating the growing entrepreneurial class. Conservative critics within the party, such as hardline leftist Deng Liqun, denounced this as betrayal of "true" communist ideology.[58]

Other areas

Some have also associated Jiang with the widespread corruption and cronyism that had become a notable feature of the Communist power apparatus since Jiang's years in power. In the military, the two vice-chairmen who sat atop the Central Military Commission hierarchy – nominally as assistants to then chairman Hu Jintao – Vice-Chairmen Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong, were said to have obstructed Hu Jintao's exercise of power in the military. Xu and Guo were characterized as "Jiang's proxies in the military." Eventually, both men were reported to have taken massive bribes, and both fell under the axe of the anti-corruption campaign under Xi Jinping.[59]

At the same time, many biographers of Jiang have noted his government resembled an oligarchy as opposed to an autocratic dictatorship.[60] Many of the policies of his era had been attributed to others in government, notably premier Zhu Rongji. Jiang was also characterized as a leader who was mindful to seek the opinion of his close advisers. Jiang is often credited with the improvement in foreign relations during his term,[61] but at the same time many Chinese have criticized him for being too conciliatory towards the United States and Russia. The issue of Chinese unification between the mainland and Taiwan gained ground during Jiang's term.[62] The construction of the Qinghai–Tibet railway and the Three Gorges Dam began under Jiang's leadership.[63]

Family and personal life

Jiang married Wang Yeping, also a native of Yangzhou, in 1949.[64] She is his cousin (Jiang's adoptive mother is Wang's aunt). She graduated from Shanghai International Studies University.[65] They had two sons together, Jiang Mianheng and Jiang Miankang.[66] Jiang Mianheng went on to be an academic and businessman, working within the Chinese space program, and founded Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation.[67]

It is believed that Jiang had a long-running friendship with the singer Song Zuying, Chen Zhili and others.[68][69][70][71][72][73] Following the rise of Xi Jinping, Song and other Jiang loyalists, including her brother Song Zuyu, fell under investigation for corruption.[74][75]

Jiang had a passable command of several foreign languages,[76] including English and Russian. He enjoyed engaging foreign visitors in small talk on arts and literature in their native language, in addition to singing foreign songs in the original. Jiang remains the only paramount leader of China known to be able to speak in English.[76]

Death

Jiang died on 30 November 2022, at the age of 96, in Shanghai. According to the Chinese state media Xinhua News Agency, he died at 12:13 PM from leukemia and multiple organ failures.[77][78][79]

Awards and honors

  •  Republic of the Congo:
    • 70px Grand Cross of the Order of Merit (20 March 2000)[82]
  •  Djibouti:
    • 70px Order of the Great Star of Djibouti (18 August 1998)[84]
  •  Palestine:
    • 70px Medal 'Bethlehem 2000' (15 April 2000)[89]

Works

See also

Notes

  1. /ˈɑːŋ zəˈmɪn/; Chinese: 江泽民; pinyin: Jiāng Zémín, traditionally romanized as Chiang Tze-min
  2. Paramount leader" is not a formal title; it is a reference occasionally used by media outlets and scholars to refer to the foremost political leader in China at a given time. For example, there is no consensus on when Hu Jintao became the paramount leader (2002–2012), as Jiang held the most powerful office in the military (i.e., Central Military Commission chairman) and did not relinquish all positions until 2005 to his successor, while Hu was the General Secretary of the Communist Party since 2002 and President of China since 2003.

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Bibliography

Further reading

  • Gilley, Bruce. Tiger on the Brink: Jiang Zemin and China's New Elite. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. 395pp. This was the first biography of Jiang to appear in the West. A comprehensive and highly readable journalistic account of Jiang's early years, his ascendancy within the Party bureaucracy, and his ultimate rise to power as Deng Xiaoping's successor in the wake of Tiananmen.
  • Kuhn, Robert Lawrence = The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin, Random House (English edition) 2005. Century Publishing Group, Shanghai (Chinese edition) 2005. The book is a general biography of Jiang with a more favorable stance towards him.
  • China Daily, chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  • Lam, Willy Wo-Lap. "The Era of Jiang Zemin"; Prentice Hall, Singapore: 1999. General Jiang-era background information and analysis, not comprehensive biography.
  • Deba R. Mohanty (1998). "Power struggle in China: The post‐Deng scenario and Jiang Zemin as the "first among equals"". Strategic Analysis. 22 (2). doi:10.1080/09700169808458805.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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Party political offices
Preceded by
Rui Xingwen
Secretary of the CCP Shanghai Committee
1987–1989
Succeeded by
Zhu Rongji
Preceded by
Zhao Ziyang
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
1989–2002
Succeeded by
Hu Jintao
Preceded by
Deng Xiaoping
Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China
1989–2004
Political offices
Preceded by
Zhang Ting
Minister of the Electronics Industry
1983–1985
Succeeded by
Li Tieying
Preceded by
Wang Daohan
Mayor of Shanghai
1985–1988
Succeeded by
Zhu Rongji
Preceded by
Yang Shangkun
President of the People's Republic of China
1993–2003
Succeeded by
Hu Jintao
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Hassanal Bolkiah
Chairperson of APEC
2001
Succeeded by
Vicente Fox
Order of precedence
Preceded by
First
Orders of precedence in the People's Republic of China
(General Secretary of the Communist Party; 1st ranked)

1989–1993
Succeeded by
Yang Shangkun
(President, 2nd ranked)
Orders of precedence in the Politburo Standing Committee
(General Secretary of the Communist Party; 1st ranked)

1989–2002
Succeeded by
Li Peng
(2nd randed)

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