Assessing the era of Jiang Zemin

Yiu Chung WONG

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Abstract

Jiang Zemin was officially elected as general secretary of the CCP in the 4th Central Plenum of the Thirteenth CCP Congress held June 23-24, 1989. The rise of the top leadership was not expected of him. He was preparing for his retirement plan in two years, and was seeking to return academia (Kuhn 2004, 143-144). Until then his promotion within the Party was relatively slow. Having been elected as member of the Central Committee of the CCP in the Twelfth CCP Congress in 1982, Jiang then began his ladder of advancement.

In the beginning of his tenure in Beijing, he was surrounded by his comrades like Li Peng and Qiao Shi, who had been working in the power centre much longer than he. Rumors circulating that his current position as general secretary was only transitional, but he held on. In retrospect, he as served the longest term of service (13 years) at the top in the post- Mao leadership to date. Not only he survived but also thrived under circumstances beyond his control. Flexibilities and consensus-building may have been two greatest personality assets in crisis. He sailed through diplomatic lockdown and internal purges in the aftermath of Tiananmen crackdown and embarked to set up an entirely new market economy with Chinese characteristics which means heavily dominated by the state/Party. most importantly, he restructured the state enterprise system and introduced share-ownership to the still rigid commodity economy. Remarkably, he achieved the fastest Chinse economic growth under his leadership in the reform era. His ambitious plan of exploring and developing the north-western region remained unfulfilled. Ideologically, he left his mark on the Party with the "Theory of Three Represents," which would soon disappear after his departure from the political scene. Indeed, Jiang's tenure was transitional, but it was an important transition for the PRC to become a global power to be reckoned with. For the first time in the modern era "the rise of China" began to be heard.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChinese Ideology
EditorsShiping HUA
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter12
ISBN (Electronic)9781003007364
ISBN (Print)9780367440008
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 17 Aug 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies on Comparative Asian Politics
PublisherRoutledge

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