Jiang Zemin (jyängˈ zŭˈmĭnˈ) [key], 1926–, Chinese government official, general secretary of the Chinese Communist party (1989–2002) and president of China (1993–2003), b. Jiangsu prov. Trained as an electrical engineer, Jiang joined the party in 1946, was an industrial executive, and became minister of the Chinese electronics industry in 1983. Elected mayor of Shanghai in 1985, he also became first deputy secretary, then (1988) secretary of the Shanghai Communist party. A member of China's politburo from 1987, he was named to succeed Zhao Ziyang as Communist party general secretary after the army crushed prodemocracy demonstrations in Beijing and other cities in 1989. A protégé of Deng Xiaoping, he replaced Deng as head of the powerful government and party military commissions (1989–90) and was picked by Deng to succeed him. Regarded as a political pragmatist, Jiang consolidated power, extended Deng's economic reforms, and brought about the admission of private business owners into the party's membership. He also increased China's influence in international affairs, and brought China into the World Trade Organization. He retired as party leader in Nov., 2002, and president in Mar., 2003; Hu Jintao succeeded him in both positions. Jiang retained his positions on the military commissions until Sept., 2004, but he continued to retain influence in party affairs.
See B. Gilley, Tiger on the Brink (1999).