Beijing: Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who led his country out of isolation after the crushing of pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and supported economic reforms that led to a decade of explosive growth, has died, state TV said. He was 96.
Jiang died at 12.13 pm (0413 GMT) in his home city of Shanghai, the official Xinhua news agency said, publishing a letter to the Chinese people by the ruling Communist Party, parliament, Cabinet and the military announcing the death.
"Comrade Jiang Zemin's death is an incalculable loss to our Party and our military and our people of all ethnic groups," the letter read, saying the announcement was made with "profound grief".
It described "our beloved Comrade Jiang Zemin" as an outstanding leader of high prestige, a great Marxist, statesman, military strategist and diplomat and a long-tested communist fighter.
A surprise choice to lead a divided Communist Party after the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, Jiang saw China through history-making changes including a revival of market-oriented reforms, the return of Hong Kong from British rule in 1997 and Beijing's entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001.
Even as China opened to the outside, Jiang's government stamped out dissent at home. It jailed human rights, labour and pro-democracy activists and banned the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which it viewed as a threat to the Communist Party's monopoly on power.