Born in 1926 in Yangzhou, Jiangsu, Jiang Zemin graduated from Shanghai Jiaotong University with a degree in electronic engineering, and rose up in state-owned factories and government agencies overseeing industries. He was promoted to China's top power bench soon after the bloody crackdown on student movement in Beijing in 1989, becoming general secretary of the Party and chairman of its Central Military Commission. He became president in 1993. He held on to the military chief job for two more years even after handing Party leadership and presidency to successor Hu Jintao in 2002-2003. He is believed to still wield massive influence on Chinese politics a decade after his retirement.
Young turks groomed for leadership roles
A CONTINGENT of cadres under 50 years of age will be inducted into the leadership corps of at least 10 provinces and major cities.
And President Jiang Zemin and other contenders for the mantle of patriarch Deng Xiaoping are manoevring to install their young proteges among the ranks of the so-called 'cross-century cadres'.
Xinhua (the New China News Agency) disclosed last night that the Communist Party committees of at least 10 provinces and important cities would be reshuffled next year.
This comes in the wake of high-level personnel changes that had already taken place in several provinces and cities in the last quarter of this year.
Quoting an Organisation Department senior official, Xinhua said the passing on of the baton to cadres in their 30s and 40s would be accomplished 'within three to five years to guarantee the continuity of policy'.
He added that the proportion of young leaders in all levels of party and government leadership would be 'significantly enlarged' by the year 2000.
To speed up the changeover, life tenure has been abolished, retirement-age rules have been more strictly enforced, and 'time limits' put on specific offices and jobs.
Choosing the right leaders to high-level posts for the new century will be 'of vital importance to China's future and destiny', it said.
The Organisation Department disclosed that 59 per cent of the 30,000-odd county-level officials nationwide were under the age of 40.
And 40 per cent of the 35 million civil servants with the rank of cadre were under 35 years old.
Party sources said yesterday that heavyweight leaders including Mr Jiang, Vice-Premier Zhu Rongji, National People's Congress Chairman Qiao Shi, and the Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Li Ruihuan had pulled strings to groom their successors for top positions.
Analysts have pointed out that there is a vacuum of leaders who are in their 50s, and that in the early 21st Century, politicians now in their 40s would directly take over from those in their late 60s such as Mr Jiang.
Some of the most high-profile cadres in their 40s are the sons and daughters of the first generation of revolutionaries.