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.
Army in probe for overseas hoards
Army authorities are checking the 'private piggy banks' that various PLA enterprises are reported to be maintaining abroad.
A military source in Beijing said yesterday President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji had ordered a full auditing of the finances of PLA companies.
Before Mr Jiang's announcement of the cessation of army businesses this week, special investigation teams had already checked the accounts that the PLA's commercial concerns maintain with big domestic banks.
'The auditing in mainland banks has turned up some irregularities, but the graft-busters think more dubious deals [by PLA businesses] may have been done overseas,' the source said.
A diplomatic source said the Politburo Standing Committee decided that the unbridled commercial activities of PLA businesses had exacerbated corruption and endangered national security.
Mr Jiang and Mr Zhu had staked their reputations on the eradication of graft among the army, the People's Armed Police and other security units.
The source added that the leadership had opted for tough action after an ugly incident involving an aide recently sent by Mr Zhu to investigate the questionable activities of a PLA company.
'The head of the company, which had the backing of generals in a military region, manhandled the Zhu aide and even had him detained for a few days,' the source said.
'Zhu was so angry he called Jiang immediately and the two made the decision to announce the ban on PLA businesses.' It is understood that PLA-affiliated commercial units will either be closed down or absorbed by civilian departments at the central and local level.
Only the 'legitimate' businesses of companies run by the PLA's headquarters, such as arms sales and procurement, will be retained.
Meanwhile, the heads of all PLA departments and military regions are expected to voice support for Mr Jiang in a ritual called biaotai, or the 'airing of views'.
The national media yesterday quoted Mr Jiang's protege and chief of staff General Fu Quanyou as calling on 'every unit and every cadre' to implement Mr Jiang's new decree 'without conditions'.
General Fu also ordered the formation of a special work team to investigate smuggling in army ranks.