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Former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin's body arrives in Beijing

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Mourners pay their respects to late former Chinese President Jiang Zemin outside Beijing’s China Liaison Office in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday. Zemin, who served as head of state from 1993 to 2003 died Wednesday at age 96. Photo by Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE
Mourners pay their respects to late former Chinese President Jiang Zemin outside Beijing’s China Liaison Office in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday. Zemin, who served as head of state from 1993 to 2003 died Wednesday at age 96. Photo by Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE

Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin's body has arrived in Beijing.

State television broadcast images of a Jiang's body's, still wearing his signature dark-rimmed glasses, being carried off a plane in a glass coffin by a group of 12 Chinese soldiers. Images of the highly choreographed procession passing lines of Chinese citizens dressed in black to pay their respects were also broadcast.

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Jiang's death at age 96 from leukemia and multiple organ failure was announced in a letter from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Wednesday.

Jiang replaced Zhao Ziyang as head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after his predecessor was accused of supporting the student movement behind the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

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Jiang is known for introducing the term "socialist market economy" during the 14th CCP National Congress in 1992. Under Jiang's reforms, the Chinese economy expanded drastically.

Jiang is often credited with rehabilitating China's image in the wake of international condemnation of the crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protestors. Despite his outreach, his human rights record, which included violent crackdowns on the Falun Gong religious movement, was criticized.

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"During the serious political turmoil in China in the spring and summer of 1989, Comrade Jiang Zemin supported and implemented the correct decision of the Party Central Committee to oppose unrest, defend the socialist state power, safeguarding the fundamental interests of the people," read the CCP's official obituary.

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Jiang presided oversaw the return of Hong Kong to China from the United Kingdom in 1997, as well as the return of Macau from Portugal in 1999.

The somber images being broadcast on state television stand in contrast to recent reports of unrest and protests in response to China's zero-COVID policy.

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