BEIJING—Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese leader who came to power after the quelling of the Tiananmen Square democracy protests and presided over the market-oriented changes that turned China into a global economic juggernaut, died of leukemia on Wednesday, state media said. He was 96.
Mr. Jiang retired as Communist Party chief in 2002, stepped down as president in 2003, and left as head of the party’s Central Military Commission the next year. Behind the scenes, he managed to wield substantial influence within the secretive party elite, installing allies in the leadership team of his successor, Hu Jintao. From retirement, party insiders say, he decisively backed Xi Jinping’s ascent to party leader.