China mourns Jiang Zemin

China mourns Jiang Zemin
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Islam News – Jiang Zemin led China after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and presided over a decade of meteoric economic growth. He died yesterday at 96.

Now, China must figure out how to honor Jiang during a wave of public defiance on a scale unseen since he came to power. The demonstrations have, at times, boldly called for China to return to the path of liberalization that seemed at least thinkable, even openly discussable, under Jiang’s rule.

Xi Jinping, the sternly autocratic leader, must preside over the mourning — the deaths of Chinese Communist leaders are always fraught moments of political theater — while preventing Jiang from becoming a symbolic cudgel against Xi’s politics. Almost immediately, online tributes to Jiang made thinly veiled, often sardonic comparisons between him and Xi.

History: Jiang oversaw a period of giddy, sometimes reckless and polluting growth. The party controlled political life, but allowed more debate and freer discourse than exists now. Jiang himself was a garrulous, disarming exception to the mold of stiff, unsmiling Chinese leaders.

Censorship: Videos circulating online show the risks that protesters face in openly challenging China’s leadership. The clips have stretched China’s censors to their limit.

Analysis: The protests may lead to the lifting of some Covid restrictions, but they are unlikely to spur sweeping political change.

Source: The New York Times

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