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Jiang helped restore China's standing in the world
Jiang Zemin will be credited with repairing China's international ties following condemnation over Tiananmen Square, and for overseeing a decade of rapid economic growth.
Mr Jiang became Party chief in 1989 after a purge of more liberal leaders following the Tiananmen Square protests.
Party elders like paramount leader Deng Xiaoping needed to find a new face to head the Party.
Mr Jiang, who as Shanghai party chief had weathered the student protests without resorting to violence, fitted the bill.
He has been described as an unimaginative leader whose priority has been to maintain social stability, continue with gradual economic reforms and keep the Party's grip on power secure.
He has attempted to make his mark as a political thinker, alongside Mao and Deng, by expounding the Three Representations theory, his attempt to modernise the Party.
The theory says the Party should further the development of "advanced social productive forces" [allow entrepreneurs and professionals to become Party members], develop culture, and represent the majority of the people.
Even after Mr Jiang steps down he could remain influential. During his 10 years in office he has promoted dozens of protégés and supporters to key positions.
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