Jiang, who died at the age of 96 on Nov 30, came to power in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square incident and led the world’s most populous nation into the new millennium, towards its emergence as a global powerhouse.
The former Chinese leader is “ironically” remembered “by contrast with the recent period” under President Xi, said Dr John Delury, professor of Chinese Studies at the Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies.
“It actually seemed like a much looser, less restrictive and a much more open China in the Jiang period,” said Dr Delury, referring to the period from the 1990s to the early 2000s.
He called the period “a peak of contemporary China really embracing the world”, with its joining of the World Trade Organisation, and winning the hosting rights to global sporting events like the Olympics.
“I think there’s a broader sort of cultural moment,” said Dr Delury. “It’s a period of Chinese history where maybe, under the party leadership, there’s the most momentum in terms of China joining the world.”
Jiang had also continued his predecessor Deng Xiaoping’s plan of opening China up to the world, bringing in unprecedented levels of foreign direct investment, said Associate Professor John Donaldson from the Singapore Management University’s School of Social Sciences.