former Chinese president Jiang Zemin at the Great Hall

Honour guards stand at attention during a memorial for former Chinese president Jiang Zemin at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday © AP

China’s Former President Jiang Zemin cremated in Beijing

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China’s former president Jiang Zemin was cremated at beijing on Monday in the presence of the top leaders of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) including President Xi Jinping.

Jiang, who had leukemia, died of multiple organ failure on November 30 in Shanghai at the age of 96. His body was flown here by a special flight last week from Shanghai. Xi and other leaders received the body in Beijing.

The remains of Jiang were cremated at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in western Beijing on Monday, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

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

While Jiang was widely acclaimed for his leadership after Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, the two iconic leaders of the CPC, the deceased leader was credited with leading China out of isolation from the ignominy of the Chinese military, crushing the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.

In 13 years as party general secretary, China’s most powerful post, Jiang guided the country’s rise to economic power by welcoming capitalists into the ruling party and pulling in foreign investment after China joined the WTO. China passed Germany and then Japan to become the second-largest economy after the United States.

Chinese authorities have barely acknowledged the largest display of public discontent since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. But a gradual easing of coronavirus testing and quarantine requirements has accelerated in recent days.

In a televised eulogy, Xi said that Jiang had been an inseparable part of the progress China made during his tenure, calling him a great Marxist, revolutionary and statesman. He also made a rare tacit mention of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests when he noted that Jiang made “correct strategic decisions” to ensure stability in Shanghai during what the party calls a period of “serious political turmoil.”

Chinese authorities have carefully managed mourning over the last six days. Websites turned gray and well-wishers gathered in an unusually orderly single-file line in Shanghai and, separately, arrived one by one to leave flowers by the door of Jiang’s ancestral home in Yangzhou city. The police presence on the streets remains elevated to guard against vigils that might morph into demonstrations.

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