Jiang Zemin was born in the city of Yangzhou, Jiangsu. This was also the hometown of a number of prominent figures gradual drawing for military children Chinese academic and intellectual establishments. Jiang grew up during the years of Japanese occupation. Graduation photo of Jiang Zemin, taken in 1947.
Jiang attended the Department of Electrical Engineering at the National Central University in Japanese-occupied Nanjing before being transferred to National Chiao Tung University. Jiang married Wang Yeping in 1949, also a native of Yangzhou. She graduated from Shanghai International Studies University. He claims that he joined the Communist Party of China when he was in college. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Jiang received his training at the Stalin Automobile Works in Moscow in the 1950s. In 1985 he became Mayor of Shanghai, and subsequently the Party Secretary of Shanghai.
Jiang received mixed reviews as mayor. Many of his critics dismissed him as a “flower pot”, a Chinese term for someone who only seems useful, but actually gets nothing done. Jiang was described as having a passable command of several foreign languages, including Romanian, Russian, and English. Jiang was elevated to national politics in 1987, automatically becoming a member of the Politburo of the CPC Central Committee because it is customarily dictated that the Party Secretary of Shanghai would also have a seat in the Politburo. Jiang was elevated to the country’s top job in 1989 with a fairly small power base inside the party, and thus, very little actual power. At the first meeting of the new Politburo Standing Committee, after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, Jiang criticized the previous period as “hard on the economy, soft on politics” and advocated increasing political thought work. Deng grew critical of Jiang’s leadership in 1992.
Jiang grew ever more cautious, and rallied behind Deng’s reforms completely. In the early 1990s, post-Tiananmen economic reforms had stabilized and the country was on a consistent growth trajectory. At the same time, China faced a myriad of economic and social problems. At Deng’s state funeral in 1997, Jiang delivered the elder statesman’s eulogy. Jiang had inherited a China rampant with political corruption, and regional economies growing too rapidly for the stability of the entire country. The scale of rural migration into urban areas was unprecedented anywhere, and little was being done to address an ever-increasing urban-rural wealth gap. Jiang’s biggest aim in the economy was stability, and he believed that a stable government with highly centralised power would be a prerequisite, choosing to postpone political reform, which in many facets of governance exacerbated the ongoing problems.