Jiang Zemin was re-elected General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the First Plenary Session of the15th CPC Central Committee following the last CPC National Congressin in 20th century.
His re-election as head of the world's largest ruling party with 58 million members is viewed as the measure of the confidence of the Chinese people he enjoys.
Over the past eight years when Jiang served as the top leader of the Party, China has been in a period featuring "most stable political situation, the strongest national strength, the most active diplomatic activities and the most remarkable improvement in the people's life," said a local analyst.
Overseas press commented that the prestige of CPC's third generation leadership is just the kind of prestige that could be expected from a country where economy has registered double-digits growth for more than a decade.
Jiang officially took over the post of Party General Secretary in June, 1989 when China faced great difficulties, politically, economically and diplomatically.
In just two years, Jiang succeeded in bringing about big changes in the situation. The GNP grew steadily at an average annual rate of 12.1 percent, the fastest in the world.
Jiang was elected President of the People's Republic of China in March 1993 and continued to serve for another term as Chairman of the Central Military Commission. His status as the core of the leadership is attributable to his outstanding achievements, ability and a steady and down-to-earth style of work.
Born on August 17, 1926, of an intellectual familyin Yangzhou, a culturally famous city in east China's Jiangsu Province,Jiang received his higher education in the prestigious Shanghai Jiaotong University and his major was electrical engineering.
Both his grandfather and father were noted local scholars.
During his college years, Jiang participated in the CPC-led students movements and joined the Communist Party of Chinain 1946.
After the founding of New China, Jiang served as associate engineer, deputy director of a factory, section head of an enterprise. In 1955, He went to the then Soviet Union and worked in the Stalin Automobile Works as a trainee for one year. After his return home,he served as deputy division head, deputy chief power engineer, director of a branch factory, and deputy director, director of factories and research institutes in Changchun, Shanghai and Wuhan.
In the ensuing years, Jiang served as deputy,then director of foreign affairs department of the No. 1 Ministry of Machine-Building Industry. He speaks good English, Russian and Romanian, and knows some Japanese and French.
Before he became Shanghai Mayor in 1985, Jiang served as minister of Electronics Industry.
His unique career experiences have enabled him to observe and solve problems from the perspectives of profound relations between China and the world.
Jiang was the first planner of Shenzhen, China's first special economic zone (SEZ). In 1979 when the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping proposed to build SEZs in China, Jiang was the first to settle concrete matters in Shenzhen on behalf of the central government. He was then serving as deputy director and concurrently secretary general of the State Import and Export Administration and the State Foreign Investment Administration. Facing the wilderness, Jiang put forward his guiding ideas that had a far-reaching effect on Shenzhen's construction in the following years. "All construction projects in the SEZ should be started from a long-term point of view and in line with international standards."The development of Shenzhen over the past 10 years and more has testified to the correctness of his ideas.
Soon after Jiang became Shanghai mayor in 1985,he planned a series of key infrastructure projects using overseas capitals. The city raised 3.2 billion US dollars from international capital market,of which 1.4 billion dollars were poured into such key projects as the city's subway, Nanpu Bridge, polluted water treatment, airport expansion and program-controlled telephone exchanges. People are stunned by the profound changes that have taken place in Shanghai.
Jiang was elected member of the 12th CPC Central Committee in September of 1982. In November, 1987, Jiang was elected memberof the Political Bureau at the First Plenary Session of the 13th CPC Central Committee. He was elected member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau in June of 1989 at the Fourth Plenary Session of the 13th Central Committee, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. Five months later, he was elected chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 13th Central Committee. At the Third Session of the Seventh National People's Congress, he was elected chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China (PRC). At the first Plenary Session of the 14th Central Committee, he was re-elected member of its Central Committee, member of the Political Bureau, member of its Standing Committee, general secretary of CPC's Central Committee and at the Eighth National People's Congress held in March, 1993, he was elected president of the PRC and chairman of the Central Military Commission.
During the past eight years, what he always puts high on his agenda is grain, cotton, edible oil and vegetable production and supply, all closely related to the people's daily life. "Any reform should benefit the majority of the people and it should be carried out within the capacity of the people to bear upon," he often said. Thanks to the implementation of these principles, the thorny reforms of the country's public finance, taxation, monetary and investment systems have been going on smoothly without sharp fluctuations.
Over the past eight years, Jiang toured almost all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities except Taiwan. What he is concerned with most is the life of the people in poor and remoteareas where ethnic groups live. He initiated the ambitious anti-poverty campaign in 1992, vowing to eradicate poverty before the end of the century.Thanks to the intensified efforts, China's population under the poverty line has been reduced from 80 million to 58 million by 1996.
Jiang loves to make friends with intellectuals.He has many good friends in economic, scientific, art and press circles.Some friends called him a "scholar statesman." Early in 1987when he was still Shanghai mayor, he initialed a bi-monthly seminar with scholars in the theoretical circle in Shanghai. Each time he would raisea hot or sensitive or difficult issue for the experts and scholars he invited to discuss.
Jiang stresses national self-esteem, self-confidence,national dignity and the cohesion of the Chinese nation. Jiang is highly accomplished in classic Chinese literature and often quotes ancient poems off-hand. Jiang has a wide range of interest and plays piano and erhu,a two-string traditional Chinese musical instrument. In his spare time,he may indulge himself in the music of Mozart and Beethoven. In his eyes,the Chinese and Western cultures are "communicable."
Jiang loves reading and devotes most of his spare time to reading the latest science books. He also loves to read Mark Twain.Sources close to him said Jiang could recite the monologue of "Tobe or not to be" in Hamlet and "Ode to the West Wind" by Shelley. In his last official tour of Russia, his analysis of the literary masterpieces by Leo Tolstoy and other Russian authors surprised the Russian guides.
Wang Yeping, his wife, graduated from the Shanghai Foreign Languages Institute and used to be head of an electrical engineering research institute in Shanghai. Now she has retired. The couple have two sons. Jiang Mianheng, the eldest, obtained his doctor's degree in electronic engineering in the United States. After returning to Shanghai, he has been appointed director of the Shanghai Metallurgical Research Institute. Their younger son, Jiang Miankang, studied in Germany for a while after finishing Shanghai No. 2 University of Engineering. Now he is a researcher of software at the Shanghai Underground Pipeline Information System.