China: Jiang Zemin's death officially buries Deng Xiaoping era of fast reforms

REUTERS/Scott Olson/Pool

Sirens wailed across China as the Communist Party eulogised late leader Jiang Zemin Tuesday, hailing him as a patriot who "dedicated his life" to the country. But the official press didn't elaborate much on his economic feats – institgated by Jiang's patron Deng Xiaoping, the man who opened China up to the world.

China held a day of mourning across the country, with security services ensuring there were no large gatherings on the streets following rare protests in recent weeks.

Jiang died in Shanghai last Wednesday at the age of 96 and left a mixed legacy, taking power in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and leading China towards its emergence as a powerhouse on the global stage.

A public memorial service attended by China's political elite began at 10:00 am local time in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, featuring a giant portrait of the late leader as well as slogans lauding him and a massive flower display.

"He dedicated his whole life and energy to the Chinese people, dedicated his life to fighting for national independence, people's liberation, national prosperity, and people's happiness," President Xi Jinping told assembled party faithful at the hall.

"The CCP Central Committee calls on the whole Party, the army and the people of all ethnic groups in China to turn grief into strength," Xi added.

Looking frail and distraught, Jiang's wife Wang Yeping sat in a wheelchair in the front row.

A nationwide "three-minute silence" was held as sirens sounded.

In Jiang's hometown of Yangzhou, around 100 people gathered in front of his former residence to observe the silence after which they were swiftly dispersed by police.

Hu Jintao's return

(With AFP)

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