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China’s late leader Jiang Zemin at the memorial service


BEIJING — China’s leaders hailed the late Jiang Zemin on Tuesday as a staunch Marxist-Leninist who oversaw their country’s rapid economic development while maintaining control. the Communist Party’s tight grip on society.

President and current party leader Xi Jinping praised Jiang during an hour-long speech at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in the presence of senior officials, military personnel and soldiers. rank soldiers.

Xi emphasized Jiang’s role in maintaining political stability, alluding to his sudden promotion to top leadership just before the army’s bloody crackdown on the student-led democracy movement. The leaders of 1989 gathered in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

“Comrade Jiang Zemin emphasized that our party is leading the people in the great struggle for socialist modernization, and will inevitably encounter many complicated situations,” said Xi. speak.

“The dire situation at home and abroad as well as the confrontation and struggle between different social systems and different ideological systems often tests all of our party members,” he said.

Jiang died at the age of 96, just days after China’s biggest street protest since 1989, fueled by anger over draconian restrictions on COVID-19. Acting to quell the protests, authorities flooded the streets with security personnel and an unidentified number of people were detained.

Those who attended Tuesday’s memorial service observed three minutes of silence and halted trading on the country’s stock exchanges.

On Monday, state broadcaster CCTV showed Xi Jinping, his predecessor Hu Jintao and others bowing before Jiang’s body was laid on a bed of flowers and evergreens and covered with party flags at a hospital. army in Beijing. Jing’s body was cremated at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery, where many Chinese leaders are buried.

The crowd stood in silence as Giang’s glass-lidded coffin was slowly transported to the cemetery under tight security conditions, possibly as a safeguard against a recurrence of recent protests.

Jiang led China out of diplomatic isolation following the 1989 crackdown and advocated for economic reforms that fueled a decade of explosive growth. The economy has slowed as it matures and faces an aging population, trade sanctions, high unemployment, and the aftermath of lockdowns and other anti-COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Xi. put.

A highly trained engineer and former head of China’s largest city, Shanghai, Jiang was President for a decade and led the ruling Communist Party for 13 years until 2002. After When he took over from reform leader Deng Xiaoping, he oversaw the handover of Hong Kong from the British. 1997 and Beijing’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Jiang died of leukemia and multiple organ failure on November 30 in Shanghai, state media reported. The party declared him a “great proletarian revolutionary” and a “long-tested Communist soldier”.

It was Ho’s first public appearance since October 22, when he was unexpectedly instructed to leave the stage during the closing ceremony of the National Communist Party Congress.

No official explanation has been given, and speculation about his abrupt departure has shifted from a health crisis to a signal of the 79-year-old former leader’s protest against Xi, who has removed gender equality. term for his office and appoint loyalists to all top positions .

In Hong Kong, officials, lawmakers and judges observed three minutes of silence on Tuesday morning.

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange didn’t stop trading but its outside 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 event.

The official memorial service for Giang drew large crowds over the weekend, mostly elderly Hong Kongers, who credit him for overseeing a smooth transition from Chinese rule. He went to China. The handover was made with China’s commitment that Hong Kong would maintain its own social, economic and legal systems for 50 years.

A far-reaching crackdown on freedom of speech and assembly, electoral reform that effectively eliminated political opposition, and the imposition of draconian national security laws under Xi Jinping have exhausted most of the content of the “one country, two systems” framework as promised under Jiang Zemin.

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Associated Press writer Kanis Leung of Hong Kong contributed to this report.

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