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Days after rare dual volcanic eruptions in Hawaii, officials are urging people not to park vehicles along a key highway because lava is flowing nearby.
Kilauea, located inside Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, has been active for more than a year – and neighboring Mauna Loa erupted Sunday.
Hawaii officials have said the simultaneous eruptions of Mauna Loa and Kilauea on the Big Island are not threatening homes or nearby infrastructure.
But, by Tuesday, Mauna Loa’s lava had flowed to a point about 4.5 miles from Saddle Road, the main highway running across the center of the Big Island, according to the US Geological Survey.
In response, the Hawaii County Civil Defense is urging drivers not to park along Saddle Road. “HPD will be giving citations and towing vehicles parked between mile markers 16-31”, the agency said in a Facebook post.
This week marked the first time in nearly 40 years that the two volcanoes – which are about 21 miles apart – have erupted together. The rare sight grew even more spectacular Tuesday when two new lava flows were seen streaming down Mauna Loa, according to the geological agency.
National park officials say the double eruption is bound to attract many visitors seeking a peek at the glowing rock.
And although there are no known immediate risks to property, air quality could be impacted by hazards such as vog, or volcanic smog, state officials have warned. Volcanic gas, fine ash and Pele’s Hair (strands of volcanic glass) could be carried downwind, the geological survey said.
The Hawaii health department warned residents and visitors that they should be ready for compromised air quality, including “vog conditions, ash in the air, and levels of sulfur dioxide to increase and fluctuate in various areas of the state.”
Children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions should reduce outdoor activities that cause heavy breathing and reduce exposure by staying indoors and closing windows and doors if vog conditions develop, the health department said.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation Tuesday to direct resources and aid response to Mauna Loa’s eruption. The state’s National Guard is also on standby, and the state Emergency Management Agency has activated its emergency operations center, Maj. Gen. Ken Hara, adjutant general for the state’s defense department, said during a news conference.
Watch: CNN flies over the most active volcanoes in America
Mauna Loa’s eruption earlier this week was meaningful beyond the rarity and thrill of witnessing the dual eruptions. For Native Hawaiians, the sites of eruptions carry cultural significance. “While an eruption is an exciting experience, keep in mind you are observing a sacred event. Kīlauea and Mauna Loa volcano are wahi kapu (sacred landscapes) surrounded with storied places,” the national park’s website says.
Standing at 13,681 feet above sea levelMauna Loa – the world’s largest active volcano – gushed fountains of lava as tall as 200 feet Monday, according to the geological survey. The eruption was concentrated in Mauna Loa’s Northeast Rift Zone, where lava was flowing from at least one split in the volcano, the geological survey said.
“Based on past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa rift zone eruption can be very dynamic, and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly,” the geological survey said earlier this week.
The eruption and lava flow have also cut off power and impeded access to a critical climate tool used to maintain the so-called “Keeling Curve,” which is the authoritative measurement of atmospheric carbon dioxide and vital scientific evidence for the climate crisis. The Keeling Curve graph is comprised of daily carbon dioxide concentration measurements taken at Mauna Loa since 1958.
“It’s a big deal. This is the central record of the present understanding of the climate problem,” said Ralph Keeling, a geoscientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California in San Diego and son of the Keeling Curve creator.
Tribes, environmentalists and many local officials support protecting nearly 450,000 acres around Spirit Mountain, but some developers warn it could hamper renewable energy projects
Two decades ago, Congress preserved the mountain — called Avi Kwa Ame (ah-VEE-kwah-may) in Mojave — and 33,000 acres around it as wilderness. Now the Biden administration is readying a proclamation that could put roughly 450,000 acres — spanning almost the entire triangle at the bottom of the Nevada map — off limits to development under the 1906 Antiquities Act.
President Biden will commit on Wednesday at the White House Tribal Nations Summit to protecting the area, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision was not yet public.
The transformation of this 700-square-mile wedge between California and Arizona is likely to rank as the largest act of land conservation that Biden will undertake this term. The designation enjoys the support of tribes, local officials, environmental groups and the rural business community but has frustrated some renewable energy advocates, who warn it could undercut the nation’s climate goals.
Sitting between the Mojave National Preserve on the California side and Lake Mead National Recreation Area along the border of Nevada and Arizona, the monument will provide an expanse that will allow desert tortoises, bighorn sheep, golden eagles, and dozens of other species to live and migrate uninterrupted.
“This is the missing link connecting the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Plateau,” said Neal Desai, a senior project manager for the National Parks Conservation Association who has been working for more than a dozen years to protect the area.
Wind and solar companies, Desai said, will have to stay on the other side of the monument boundaries.
When it comes to having a chance to protect this much land, he added, “This really doesn’t happen very often. Not at this scale.”
In mid-November, nearly 250 people gathered at the Aquarius casino resort in Laughlin, Nev., for a two-hour public hearing with officials from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management to discuss the prospective monument. A little more than two months before, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland had visited the area and held a roundtable on the topic with Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.).
Amid a standing-room-only crowd at the casino, only about half of the monument’s backers got time to speak.
“Today is special,” Williams said. “We’ve established a map. It’s been a collaboration of a lot of different people, a lot of organizations … This is something that you don’t see every day, especially in this day and age, in this type of political environment, you don’t see this type of collaboration. And it’s here, and it’s now.”
Tribes spread out along the Colorado River have adopted resolutions endorsing a monument, including 27 of 28 tribes in the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada and all 21 in the Inter Tribal Association of Arizona.
Several sent representatives to Laughlin, offering their two-minute testimonies about how ancient sites in the area are still an active part of their lives. Artists, environmentalists, birdwatchers, dark night-sky preservationists, hunters and off-road-vehicle enthusiasts also showed up to voice support for the monument.
Frank DeRosa, vice president for policy and public affairs for the solar energy firm Avantussaid he supported the creation of a monument, but asked BLM to consider “a modest request” for a small adjustment to the map — a “sliver,” he called it, that “avoids all cultural and environmentally sensitive areas” so renewable energy companies can access transmission infrastructure from a long-decommissioned coal-fired plant in Laughlin.
This expanse of Nevada offers some of the best prospects for clean energy development in the country. The canyons here produce tremendous wind, and the sun shines 292 days per year, usually without any cloud cover. The area also boasts dozens of mining claims for rare earth elements, now coveted by the clean tech sector.
Four massive solar farms loom along U.S. 95 between Las Vegas and Searchlight. More than 100 turbines from the White Hills wind farm in Arizona are visible from some of the higher points within the proposed monument.
The Avi Kwa Ame map, as it’s been drawn, prevents similar projects from breaking ground. In previous negotiations between the town of Laughlin and Avantus — then called 8minute Solar Energy — the tribes agreed to exclude 23,000 acres from their proposal so a large solar project at the southern tip of Clark County could continue. But they would not make similar concessions for an area abutting California’s Dead Mountains Wilderness, on the grounds that the area is sacred.
Redrawing any portions of the plan now, Williams said, was not an option. “All the resolutions, all the agreements, were based on that map being presented as final.”
A week ago, according to an individual familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations, the chief of staff to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) met with an official from the White House Council on Environmental Quality to discuss the coming proclamation. Sisolak’s aide raised concerns about whether hunters and had sufficient input into the process, this person said, and what impact the designation would have on renewable energy development.
Biden officials assured the governor’s office that hunters could continue to sustain artificial water sources, known as guzzlers, to attract bighorn sheep, according to the senior administration aide. The officials added that the state would be allowed to access and maintain existing infrastructure — including water resources and electric transmission lines — under any monument designation.
Sisolak hasn’t taken a public position on the monument. The Democrat-controlled Nevada legislature passed a joint resolution in 2021 supporting it, and the lieutenant governor, who is also a Democrat, has been championing the economic benefits of Avi Kwa Ame since the spring.
For decades, activists had been working to safeguard key tribal, cultural and ecological lands in this region in a piecemeal fashion. But that strategy changed in 2017, when President Donald Trump scaled back three national monuments and voiced his support for industrial development.
“This was a big shift for the whole environmental community,” Desai said. “Not only did the Trump administration have a different outlook on public lands use, but we were seeing site-specific threats.”
In 2018, Crescent Peak Renewables — the American subsidiary of a Swedish wind power company, Eolus Vind AV — sought to build 248 wind turbines on 32,500 acres of BLM land in southern Clark County. Trump administration officials rejected the proposal, dubbed the Kulning Wind Energy Project.
Crescent Peak tried again last year, seeking access to just 9,300 acres to erect 68 turbines in a scaled-back version of the project. But BLM designated the application as “low priority,” effectively killing it.
“If we don’t do something, we’re going to lose this landscape,” said Alan O’Neill, a retired former superintendent for the Lake Mead National Recreation Area who consults for the National Parks Conservation Association.
The Fort Mojave tribe passed a resolution in September 2019 calling for protections of their ancestral lands extending far beyond Spirit Mountain, in a 381,300-acre national monument. By the time Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) introduced a bill supporting the plan this year, the proposed size had expanded to 443,671 acres.
Monument supporters got a boost when Interior laid out a 10-year plan for locally led efforts to restore and conserve the country’s lands, water and wildlife in May 2021. The “America the Beautiful” initiative promised to protect 30 percent of the country by 2030.
‘Gentle economic growth’
That’s when Kim Garrison Means, an artist, curator and college art instructor who lives in Searchlight (population 348), began going door-to-door to talk to residents about the proposed monument and to find out what it would take for them to support it
Garrison Means, who lives a mile away from her nearest neighbor, said she talked to nearly everyone in town, making the case that people who loved their rural way of life needed to support this measure.
“It was still pretty covid-y at the time. Some people hadn’t seen other humans for quite some time,” Garrison Means said. “We did a lot of listening.”
She said she found strong support for protecting the land around Searchlight from industrial development. “You don’t appreciate what you have until people want to make changes to it.”
While wind and solar companies promise good-paying construction jobs, the Avi Kwa Ame activists contend that having this national monument on their doorstep will welcome what Garrison Means calls “gentle economic growth” — businesses related to camping, hunting, birding, hiking, stargazing and other forms of outdoor recreation.
“It was surprising how together our community was,” she added. “It didn’t matter what flag they were flying outside their house, people wanted to protect this land.”
The cause was leukemia and organ failure, said state broadcaster China Central Television.
Mr. Jiang was widely viewed as a weak, transitional figure when he first moved into Zhongnanhai, Beijing’s version of the Kremlin, but he outmaneuvered potential rivals to lead China for 14 years. He presided over a period of extraordinary economic growth that by some measures tripled the size of China’s economy, flooded American stores with Chinese goods and made China the United States’ biggest foreign creditor.
On Mr. Jiang’s watch, China sailed through Asia’s 1997-98 financial storm and, in 2001, joined the World Trade Organization, a turning point in the country’s rise as an economic power. Through wrenching change that smashed the “iron rice bowl” of millions of factory workers, China trimmed and revitalized a huge state sector that today forms the backbone of an economy that is responsive to market stimulus but is ultimately controlled by the Communist Party.
Mr. Jiang shepherded China’s relations with the United States through a series of crises, including the bitter aftermath of the Tiananmen killings, a 1996 confrontation over Taiwan that kindled fears of armed conflict, and America’s 1999 bombing of the Chinese Embassy in the Serbian capital of Belgrade during the fighting over Kosovo.
But perhaps Mr. Jiang’s most striking achievement in office — first as general secretary of the ruling Communist Party and then also as president — was the manner of his leaving it: He retired, reluctantly but peacefully, in the first orderly transfer of political power in China since Mao Zedong’s 1949 communist revolution. Purges, often accompanied by violence, were previously the norm. Mr. Jiang gave up his last senior post, chairmanship of the party’s Central Military Commission, in 2004, completing the transition to Hu Jintao as president and party leader.
Mr. Jiang, a former electrical engineer who came to prominence as mayor and then party chief in Shanghai, took charge in Beijing as communism crumbled across Eastern Europe. He took over a party divided and discredited by the Tiananmen bloodshed. His two immediate predecessors as party boss, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, had been purged. Mr. Jiang’s elevation was clouded by doubts about its legality: He was initially selected not by the ruling Politburo but by a small, geriatric group of nominally retired party elders.
“I felt as if I were standing on the brink of a deep ravine,” the pudgy, bespectacled Mr. Jiang told a visiting Yale University scholar in 1989.
His 14-year tenure at the apex of power confounded predictions that he and the party he led were destined — like Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet party — for oblivion. He not only survived China’s treacherous political currents but also halted at China’s borders the global forces that, by the end of 1991, had overthrown communism in Moscow and across the former Soviet empire.
Mr. Jiang’s principal successes, particularly the economic ones, were to a large degree the work of more dynamic underlings, especially his no-nonsense prime minister, Zhu Rongji. But it was Mr. Jiang who put Zhu and others in office and who kept the leadership together, avoiding the splintering that in the past had often led to mayhem.
Mr. Jiang entrenched the Communist Party as China’s only political force, opening its ranks to the burgeoning private business sector while eradicating all direct challenges to its monopoly on power. He scoffed at democracy as a Western import unsuited to China, and he launched a series of campaigns against dissent, most notably a brutal assault on the quasi-religious Falun Gong movement. The signature slogan of the Jiang era — “Stability overrides everything” — was enforced with even more vigor by his successors.
Mr. Jiang’s stern emphasis on order contrasted sharply with his often jovial public persona. A music lover who played the piano and the erhu, a Chinese stringed instrument, he often broke into song in public, particularly when traveling abroad. His repertoire ranged from one of Joseph Stalin’s favorite Russian ballads, “Daleko, Daleko,” to Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender.” Russian President Boris Yeltsin, serenaded by Mr. Jiang during a meeting in 1997, joked that “we have been deprived of a great opera star.”
For Mr. Jiang, one-party rule was not so much a matter of Marxist ideology as the guarantor of China’s future prosperity. Though still nominally socialist, the party under Mr. Jiang increasingly resembled, at least in its goals, the ruling parties of capitalist Asian nations in the 1960s and 1970s. It became a vehicle for development dominated by elite economic interests.
To justify this shift, Mr. Jiang in 2000 promoted what he called the “Three Represents.” Later enshrined in the constitution, this new doctrine decreed that the party must represent “advanced productive forces in society,” including wealthy entrepreneurs, a break with the traditional emphasis on workers and peasants.
Mr. Jiang stoked Chinese nationalism. Chinese youth, he said, should follow the example of Zhu Ziqing, a writer from his Yangtze River hometown who, gravely ill, died after refusing the sustenance offered by American-supplied grain in the 1940s. Mr. Jiang also ordered a Shanghai film studio to develop Chinese alternatives to Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.
While decrying the West and its ways, Mr. Jiang often recalled how, as a schoolboy, he studied the writings of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. In a 1986 meeting with restive Shanghai students and in a 2000 interview with CBS’s Mike Wallace, he recited from memory bits of the Gettysburg Address. He liked to show off his heavily accented English. He also spoke passable Russian and some Romanian.
Though promoted and initially protected by Deng Xiaoping, China’s preeminent leader until his death in 1997, Mr. Jiang never enjoyed the undisputed authority and prestige of either Deng or Mao. This was in part a result of his age: Mr. Jiang was still a boy when Mao and Deng took part in the 1930s Long March, the crucible of revolutionary legitimacy. Mr. Jiang launched his career in 1947 with a job maintaining diesel engines for an American-owned factory in Shanghai that produced Pretty Lady ice pops.
As the “core of the third generation” of leaders, Mr. Jiang — again in contrast to Mao and Deng — rose through the party hierarchy not by asserting firm views of his own but by shifting his position to fit the moment. As Shanghai boss in the 1980s, he became known as the “flower vase” — decorative but lacking substance. Mr. Jiang himself preferred another label: Mr. Tiger Balm, a reference to a soothing Chinese ointment.
When student protesters took to the streets in Shanghai in 1986 and again in 1989, Mr. Jiang avoided using extreme force and at times adopted a conciliatory tone. But once formally installed in Beijing after the Tiananmen massacre, he defended the army’s assault on unarmed protesters, in keeping with the party line.
He showed no sympathy for his ousted predecessor, Zhao, whom he previously supported with zeal. Held under house arrest until his death in 2005, Zhao wrote repeatedly to Mr. Jiang begging to be allowed to leave his home to play golf and attend funerals. Mr. Jiang never replied, according to “Prisoner of State,” a 2009 book based on tapes that Zhao made during his post-purge travails.
Mr. Jiang’s greatest talent throughout his career was probably the ability to sense and follow the prevailing wind. It was a skill that discouraged boldness.
When conservatives opposed to free markets gained ground after the Tiananmen bloodshed, Mr. Jiang did little to resist until Deng, gravely ill with Parkinson’s disease, led the way. Mr. Jiang then quickly picked up the baton, zealously promoting China’s “socialist market economy.”
Though gregarious, Mr. Jiang was a master of stiff, jargon-laded speeches. In his first meeting with President Bill Clinton in 1993, he delivered a long, leaden lecture, prompting Clinton, who could not get a word in, to joke, “I should have brought my saxophone along to get some practice in,” according to a biography of Mr. Jiang by American Sinologist Bruce Gilley.
In a diary entry leaked to the British press, Britain’s Prince Charles, who met Mr. Jiang at the 1997 ceremony to transfer sovereignty over Hong Kong to China, described the Chinese leader and his entourage as “appalling old waxworks.”
Mr. Jiang sometimes came across as a buffoon, an image reinforced by his habit of combing his dyed jet-black hair at public gatherings. (He stopped after a particularly embarrassing combing in front of the Spanish king.) Chinese intellectuals snickered at his often-pompous pronouncements and at efforts by the propaganda apparatus to present him as a great thinker in the mold of Mao.
Mr. Jiang tried, unsuccessfully, to have himself named chairman, a Mao-era title, and endorsed the publication of several hagiographic biographies. Still, many now remember the Jiang era as one of relative tolerance of limited debate, at least when compared with the chilly intolerance of public dissent in China today.
Born on Aug. 17, 1926, in the Yangtze River city of Yangzhou, west of Shanghai, Mr. Jiang was the third of five children. His father was a writer and a part-time electrician. Two of his uncles joined the early communist underground. When one of the uncles was killed, his widow adopted Mr. Jiang as her son, an arrangement that Beijing propagandists would later use to boost Mr. Jiang’s thin revolutionary credentials, hailing him as the son of a “communist martyr.”
A diligent pupil, Mr. Jiang was admitted to Yangzhou Middle School, one of China’s best and most competitive schools. He studied English and read Leo Tolstoy, Victor Hugo and other European writers in translation. He also immersed himself in Chinese literature, particularly patriotic writings that lamented China’s weakness in the face of European colonial powers and Japan.
In 1943, Mr. Jiang enrolled as an engineering student at Central University in Nanjing, a city then under Japanese occupation during World War II. Official Chinese biographies often omit Mr. Jiang’s studies in occupied Nanjing and maintain that he was at the time a dedicated communist engaged in student activism against Japan. Others say Mr. Jiang joined the Communist Party no earlier than 1946, a year after Japan’s defeat, while a student in Shanghai. He graduated a year later and went to work for the American-owned Hai Ning Co., a food producer.
In December 1949, two months after Mao declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Jiang married Wang Yeping, a young woman he’d known in Yangzhou. They had two sons. Sent to Manchuria in 1954 to work as an engineer, he joined a major project to establish a Chinese auto industry with technical assistance from the Soviet Union. After a crash course in Russian, he spent a year in Moscow at the Stalin Auto Works.
After his return to China, Mr. Jiang confronted in 1957 the first post-revolution spasm of Maoist madness — a nationwide purge of “rightists.” As a low-level party functionary, he joined in, apparently reluctantly, and helped pack off several colleagues for “reeducation.” Mr. Jiang’s sister, a teacher, was branded a “rightist,” too.
“Jiang was not a party hard-liner; he was simply learning to survive in Mao’s China,” Gilley wrote in the 1998 biography “Tiger on the Brink.”
Reassigned from Manchuria to Shanghai in 1962, Mr. Jiang became head of the Electrical Equipment Research Institute. A work trip to Hong Kong provided his first glimpse of the capitalist world. A period of relative calm was soon disrupted by the Cultural Revolution, which began in 1966 and raged for nearly a decade. Mr. Jiang got caught up in the convulsion, but he managed to avoid the physical abuse suffered by many others. To fend off accusations of being “bourgeois,” he had his hair cropped to a revolutionary brush cut.
By the late 1970s, the storm had calmed. China was exhausted, traumatized and desperately poor. Deng, who had reemerged after being purged from the leadership, carried out a program called the “Four Modernizations.” Mr. Jiang was assigned to a Beijing team of officials charged with setting up “special economic zones,” enclaves of thinly disguised capitalism along China’s coast.
After other bureaucratic posts in Beijing, Mr. Jiang moved back to Shanghai in 1985 as the city’s mayor. He promised “less empty talk and more concrete actions,” but produced only mixed results. The metropolis, ravaged by decay and revolutionary turmoil, was a shambles. Skilled at currying favor with Zhao and other gung-ho reformers then ascendant in Beijing, Mr. Jiang was promoted to Shanghai party secretary, the city’s top position, and also to the Politburo.
In 1989, the mood soured dramatically. A surge in inflation, brought about by attempts to lift price controls, put Zhao, the national party boss in Beijing, on the defensive. Students, upset over squalid living conditions and the conspicuous wealth of corrupt party officials, began to stir in anger.
Mr. Jiang, sensing that, within the party, the tide was turning in favor of conservative forces, shut down Shanghai’s most open-minded journal, the World Economic Herald. He then delivered a severe blow to Zhao, his former patron, by holding Wan Li, a Zhao ally and head of China’s rubber-stamp legislature, incommunicado at a Shanghai guesthouse. Mr. Jiang’s actions delighted those pressing for a military response to the student-led unrest.
In May 1989, as protests in China swelled, with more than 1 million people flooding into Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the victors of a tumultuous power struggle declared martial law. They secretly called Mr. Jiang to Beijing, where he was informed that he had been chosen to replace Zhao, who had opposed calling in the army and had been placed under house arrest.
In late June 1989, nearly three weeks after the People’s Liberation Army stormed into Tiananmen Square, Mr. Jiang’s elevation was made public. Abandoning his usual Western clothes and genial manner, he appeared on television wearing a Mao suit. He vowed to “ferret out” and “harshly punish all plotters, organizers and behind-the-scenes manipulators of the rebellion.”
Andrew Higgins is a former Asia correspondent for The Washington Post.
Stock futures rose Wednesday as Wall Street awaits a speech from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.
Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 38 points, or 0.14%. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 0.2% and 0.4%, respectively.
Powell will give a speech at the Brookings Institution that may give insight into the central bank’s thinking on future increases. The Fed is slated to meet next week and is largely expected to deliver a smaller 0.5 percentage point rate hike after four consecutive 0.75 percentage point increases to tame high inflation. A pause in rate hikes, or a pivot would likely send markets higher.
“This is a Fed-made recession, so eventually when he does pivot, the market should move higher pretty quickly,” said Steve Grasso, CEO of Grasso Global, on CNBC’s “Fast Money.”
Wall Street is coming off a mixed session. The Nasdaq Composite shed 0.59% and the S&P 500 lost 0.16%, their third negative day in a row. The Dow Jones Industrial Average notched a marginal gain, closing 3.07 points, or 0.01%, higher.
Stocks have been weighed down by China’s zero-Covid policy and have failed to fully recover from losses even as the country announced steps toward reopening, such as an uptick in vaccination rates for the elderly.
On the data front, the ADP private payrolls report will come out Wednesday, as will the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey for October. Pending home sales and the Fed’s Beige Book will also be released Wednesday, giving further clues about the state of the U.S. economy.
Earnings season continues as well, with Salesforce, Petco and Five Below on deck.
Jiang Zemin, the Chinese communist leader who paved the way for the country’s emergence as a global superpower, has died, state-run Xinhua news agency announced Wednesday. He was 96.
The former chief of the ruling Communist Party and state president died of leukemia and associated multiple organ failure on Wednesday in Shanghai. He is survived by his wife, two sons and two grandchildren.
After being shunned by the West following the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, China – with Jiang as its top leader – successfully reintegrated itself into the international community by regaining sovereignty over Hong Kongwinning the bid to host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and, perhaps most importantly, joining the World Trade Organization.
“That was probably the key catalyst to the great growth spurts of double-digit growth for a decade or more – because of that integration,” said Robert Lawrence Kuhn, author of a 2005 biography, “The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin.”
“In terms of the economic trajectory that was set, it’s absolutely clear to me it was established during that time, and it became irreversible toward the end of his term to hold office.”
Many observers, though, also see Jiang’s reign as having sown the seeds of widespread corruption, which remains a lightning rod for massive discontent to this day. He touted the benefit of “everyone making a fortune quietly” amid continued emphasis on one-party rule instead of political reform.
Initially considered a transitional figure, the relatively unknown Jiang was handpicked in 1989 by then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping to head the party after the bloody military suppression of the pro-democracy movement nationwide that same year led to the ouster of Zhao Ziyang, the previous party chief sympathetic to the protesters.
“Jiang was a contradictory figure and accidental leader,” said Pin Ho, founder and CEO of the Mirror Media Group, an influential New York-based Chinese-language publisher of books and websites on Chinese politics. “He admired and respected Western cultures – but he also had to live within the Chinese political system.”
“He was not prepared to become a well-thought and visionary leader,” he added. “He merely extended Deng’s rule by executing Deng’s policies.”
Those policies focused on economic liberalization and globalization, which led to improving standards of living as well as a widening wealth gap, while maintaining the party’s iron grip over political, ideological and military affairs in the world’s most populous nation.
A former party chief and mayor of Shanghai, China’s largest city, Jiang nevertheless proved to be a much shrewder politician than many had predicted, outmaneuvering a myriad of political rivals and consolidating power in the party and military in a few years, especially after Deng’s death in 1997. Installing key allies and protégés throughout the party and government, he headed the so-called “Shanghai clique,” whose influence outlasted his time in office.
In a telling sign of Jiang’s relative openness and flexibility, he welcomed private business owners – effectively capitalists – into the Communist Party with open arms. In 2001, a year before he stepped down as leader, Jiang declared the party would formally accept entrepreneurs as its members, a significant move that reinvigorated the party and boosted China’s thriving private sector.
His rule was also marked by the government’s ruthless crackdown on the Falun Gonga spiritual movement that Beijing branded an evil cult. The group’s hardcore followers had sought Jiang’s arrest for “crimes against humanity” around the world, often dogging the Chinese leader during his overseas visits.
Starting in late 2002, Jiang handed over titles to his successor, Hu Jintaofirst as the party boss and then as president. But he clung to his military chief post until 2005 and, even after his official retirement, continued to exert political influence from behind the scenes, including over the selection of China’s current leader Xi Jinping – who recently assumed a precedent-breaking third term, paving the way for him to rule for life.
Xi, the most powerful leader of the People’s Republic since its founder Mao Zedong, has eviscerated political rivals that included Jiang’s faction. He has also reasserted the ruling Communist Party’s dominance in every aspect of Chinese society, rolling back much of the economic and personal freedoms seen in the days of Deng, Jiang and Hu.
An unprecedented wave of protests against the country’s unrelenting “zero-Covid” policy erupted across China in recent days, with some demonstrators in Shanghai calling on Xi to step down.
Born in eastern China in 1926 and educated in pre-communist Shanghai, Jiang was trained to be an electrical engineer. He reportedly joined the party while in college and studied in the former Soviet Union in the 1950s. Rising gradually through the party ranks, he became the minister of electronics industry in 1983 before being named the mayor of Shanghai two years later.
Famous for wearing heavy, black-rimmed glasses, Jiang also was known for his fondness for showing off his language and artistic skills – reciting Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in English and singing “O Sole Mio” in Italian in front of foreign dignitaries.
“I feel that no matter what one’s profession, if one can enjoy reading some literature, enjoy some music, that can be very helpful to the healthy growth of the person,” Jiang told CNN in a one-on-one interview in May 1997.
Jiang’s flamboyant personality and cosmopolitan flair, while sometimes ridiculed during his rule, brought him unexpected online popularity in recent years as Chinese social media users increasingly reminisce about a comparatively more relaxed political and social atmosphere under his leadership.
Many often point to his surprising decision in 1997 to approve the live broadcast on national television of a joint news conference with Bill Clinton, during which he engaged in a heated debate with the visiting US President on the issue of human rights in China.
“I think he was underestimated during his lifetime,” said Orville Schell, a leading US scholar on China. “Compared to Hu and Xi, he was very voluble and open and friendly.”
“He was one of the few Chinese leaders who wanted to be a normal world leader, not a communist dictator.”
“In some ways, that was the start of this live-and-let-live attitude toward corruption that Xi Jinping now finds himself attacking,” said Joseph Fewsmitha professor at Boston University who studies Chinese leadership politics.
By the time Mr. Jiang retired from the party leadership in 2002 and from the presidency in 2003, his influence and self-regard had swollen so much that he was reluctant to leave the political stage. (His successor, Hu Jintao, had already been designated by Mr. Deng.)
Mr. Jiang lingered as chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission, overseeing the People’s Liberation Army until 2004and then continued to play a back-room role in promotions. Party insiders said Mr. Jiang had used his influence to shape the leadership lineup that Mr. Xi inherited when he became party leader in November 2012.
In August 2015, People’s Daily, the party’s flagship newspaper, issued an unusually blunt warning that retired leaders should stay out of politics and “cool off” like a cup of tea after a guest has left. The commentary fanned rumors that Mr. Xi had been irked by Mr. Jiang’s efforts to exert power behind the scenes, but the two men soon after appeared on the rostrum together with former President Hu Jintao during a military parade in Beijing.
But the influence of Mr. Jiang and his coterie of allies, sometimes known as the Shanghai Faction, has faded over the last decade. At a Communist Party congress last month, Mr. Xi installed a new Politburo Standing Committee, the seven men who run China, that is entirely composed of his loyalists, with no holdovers of officials with close ties to his predecessors, Mr. Jiang and Mr. Hu.
“Jiang Zemin continued to wield influence even after he stepped down, but that hurt his reputation,” said Mr. Yang, the Beijing historian. “He did that because he was comfortable with power, but also because around him there was a circle of people who relied on him and puffed him up to make him think he was indispensable.”
SHANGHAI/BEIJING, Nov 30 (Reuters) – People in the Chinese manufacturing hub of Guangzhou clashed with white hazmat-suited riot police on Tuesday night, videos on social media showed, as frustration with stringent COVID-19 rules boiled over, three years into the pandemic.
The clashes in the southern city marked an escalation from protests in the commercial hub of Shanghai, capital Beijing and other cities over the weekend in mainland China’s biggest wave of civil disobedience since President Xi Jinping took power a decade ago.
Resentment is growing as China’s COVID-hit economy sputters after decades of breakneck growth, which formed the basis of an unwritten social contract between the ruling Communist Party and a population whose freedoms have been dramatically curtailed under Xi.
In one video posted on Twitter, dozens of riot police in all-white pandemic gear, holding shields over their heads, advanced in formation over what appeared to be torn down lockdown barriers as objects fly at them.
Police were later seen escorting a row of people in handcuffs to an unknown location.
Another video clip showed people throwing objects at the police, while a third showed a tear gas canister landing in the middle of a small crowd on a narrow street, with people then running to escape the fumes.
Reuters verified that the videos were filmed in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district, the scene of COVID-related unrest two weeks ago, but could not determine when the clips were taken or the exact sequence of events and what sparked the clashes.
Social media posts said the clashes took place on Tuesday night and were caused by a dispute over lockdown curbs.
The government of Guangzhou, a city hard-hit in the latest wave of infections, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
China Dissent Monitor, run by U.S. government-funded Freedom House, estimated at least 27 demonstrations took place across China from Saturday to Monday. Australia’s ASPI think tank estimated 43 protests in 22 cities.
Home to many migrant factory workers, Guangzhou is a sprawling port city north of Hong Kong in Guangdong province, where officials announced late on Tuesday they would allow close contacts of COVID cases to quarantine at home rather than being forced to go to shelters.
The decision broke with the usual practice under China’s zero-COVID policy.
In Zhengzhou, the site of a big Foxconn factory making Apple iPhones that has been the scene of worker unrest over COVID, officials announced the “orderly” resumption of businesses, including supermarkets, gyms and restaurants.
However, they also published a long list of buildings that would remain under lockdown.
Hours before those announcements, national health officials said on Tuesday that China would respond to “urgent concerns” raised by the public and that COVID rules should be implemented more flexibly, according to each region’s conditions.
But while the easing of some measures, which comes as China posts daily record numbers of COVID cases, appears to be an attempt to appease the public, authorities have also begun to seek out those who have been at recent protests.
“Police came to my front door to ask me about it all and get me to complete a written record,” a Beijing resident who declined to be identified told Reuters on Wednesday.
Another resident said some friends who posted videos of protests on social media were taken to a police station and asked to sign a promise they “would not do that again”.
It was not clear how authorities identified the people they wanted questioned, nor how many such people authorities contacted.
Beijing’s Public Security Bureau did not comment.
On Wednesday, several police cars and security personnel were posted at an eastern Beijing bridge where a protest took place three days earlier.
In a statement that did not refer to the protests, the Communist Party’s top body in charge of law enforcement agencies said late on Tuesday that China would resolutely crack down on “the infiltration and sabotage activities of hostile forces”.
The Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission also said “illegal and criminal acts that disrupt social order” would not be tolerated.
The foreign ministry has said rights and freedoms must be exercised within the law.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said on Tuesday that protesters in China should not be harmed.
COVID has spread despite China largely isolating itself from the world and demanding significant sacrifices from hundreds of millions to comply with relentless testing and prolonged isolation.
While infections and death numbers are low by global standards, analysts say that a reopening before increasing vaccination rates could lead to widespread illness and deaths and overwhelm hospitals.
The lockdowns have hammered the economy, disrupting global supply chains and roiling financial markets.
Data on Wednesday showed China’s manufacturing and services activity for November posting the lowest readings since Shanghai’s two-month lockdown began in April. read more
International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva flagged a possible downgrade in China growth forecasts.
Additional reporting by Eduardo Baptista and Yew Lun Tian in Beijing; Writing by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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But the people’s voice, as it turned out, was always moving. A bipartisan group of 61 senators spoke loudly on Tuesday, signaling a near-total upending of once dominant political dynamics when they voted to effectively nullify the 1996 law. The Respect for Marriage Act, once repassed by the House and signed by President Biden, will help protect recognition of same-sex marriages, enforced by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, against future legal challenges.
While cultural divides continue to animate politics, marriage long ago faded from being a defining social debate. Donald Trump issued conflicting statements on his support for same-sex marriage during his presidential campaigns. The Republican Party now openly celebrates Pride Month and courts LGBTQ voters. Socially conservative activists have moved on to other fights, like the debates over transgender student-athletes. Religious institutions such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supported the religious liberty provisions in the bill that passed the Senate on Tuesday.
But the success of same-sex marriage advocates has not ended the fight for greater legal protections for LGBTQ people, who have been subjected to a surge of threats and violence in recent years. Debates about how schools should teach gender and sexual orientation became a hot-button issue in the midterm elections, as has a debate over whether transgender women should be able to compete in women’s sports. Democratic efforts to pass the Equality Act, which would provide nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ people, have yet to garner significant Republican support.
Barbara Simon, a senior director at GLAAD, said she is particularly worried about a “steady drumbeat of disinformation” targeting LGBTQ communities and individuals, such as the false accusations that LGBTQ people and their allies are “grooming” children.
Yet Tuesday was largely a celebratory day for advocates of protecting same-sex marriage. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who as a congressman supported the 1996 law that barred same-sex marriage, said his first call after the bill passed Tuesday would be to his daughter, who is expecting a child with her same-sex spouse in the new year.
“Today, a new day has come for them,” Schumer said. He added that his grandchild would “grow up in a more accepting, inclusive and loving world.”
Such unequivocal positions from leading politicians, including Democrats, were long seen as politically untenable. When he signed DOMA, President Bill Clinton expressed conflicting feelings. “I have strenuously opposed discrimination of any kind,” he wrote, only to allow his reelection campaign to place an ad on Christian radio boasting of his opposition to gay and lesbian nuptials.
The Democratic Party’s 2008 presidential nominee, Barack Obama, also opposed same sex-marriage, a plank his top political adviser David Axelrod later described as a “compromised position” made not from conviction but political expediency.
Gallup polling shows support for the same-sex marriage has risen from 27 percent of Americans in 1996 to 71 percent this year. That places same-sex marriage in the same category as other nearly settled societal transformations, like the public support for interracial marriage which rose from 4 percent in 1958 to 94 percent today, and marijuana legalization, which rose from 12 percent in 1969 to 68 percent today.
“All the alarmism that came from opponents of marriage equality on the right — ‘This is going to be the end of modern families. This is going to be the end of Western civilization’ — none of that has been borne out,” said Sasha Issenberg, the author of “The Engagement: America’s Quarter Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage.” “The Democratic Party is unified on this, and it is Republican politicians who are torn between satisfying a significant anti-gay part of their coalition and the fact that public opinion has basically inverted.”
Twelve Republican senators joined a united Democratic caucus in supporting the measure that went to a vote on Tuesday, which also includes protections for interracial marriage and language clarifying that it does not protect polygamous unions and will not change existing religious liberty protections.
Tuesday’s Senate floor proceedings came after a U.S. House vote in July when 47 Republicans joined Democrats in supporting a similar proposal. Biden, who supported the 1996 law before announcing his support for same-sex marriage in 2011, has promised to sign the bill.
“The distance we’ve traveled as a country, I think, is really remarkable,” said Naomi Goldberg, a deputy director at Movement Advancement Project, a nonpartisan think tank that has been tracking anti-LGBTQ policies since 2006. The bill’s passage is “a reminder of the hard work we’ve done and what’s possible,” Goldberg added.
The vote Tuesday for the Respect for Marriage Act was prompted by Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion in the Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion established decades ago in Roe v. Wade. Thomas has argued that court precedents that rely on a similar constitutional analysis should also be reconsidered, including the court’s 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage and previous rulings that overturned laws against sodomy and contraceptive access.
The bill passed Tuesday does not immediately change the legal status of same-sex marriages, and it does not require states to perform same-sex marriages. But if Thomas and his legal allies have their way when it comes to reexamining prior court decisions, the new law would maintain federal recognition of same-sex marriage and require states to recognize those marriages in other states.
After the House vote this summer, a bipartisan group of five senators, including the first openly gay person elected to the Senate, Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), quickly began working behind the scenes to drum up at least 10 Republicans to beat the chamber’s 60-vote filibuster threshold. They saw an opportunity to reassure Americans in same-sex marriages that the Supreme Court could not invalidate their marriages if they also decided to overturn the Obergefell precedent.
Several Republicans said they wanted to support the bill but were worried it didn’t do enough to reassure religious groups they would not be punished for not supporting same-sex marriage. The group tweaked the bill to address those concerns, and then pushed the vote to after the midterm elections, when some Republicans said they would feel more comfortable taking a potentially controversial vote.
In mid-November, 12 Republicans joined all 50 Democrats to advance the bill, including some surprising allies such as Sen. Cynthia M. Lummis (R-Wyo.), who had a zero rating from the gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign during her time in the House, and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who ran on banning same-sex marriage less than a decade ago.
“These are turbulent times for our nation,” Lummis said on the Senate floor, explaining her vote was aimed at making the country less divided and more tolerant. “For the sake of our nation today and its survival, we do well by taking this step.”
Baldwin said the legislation would ease the “anxieties and fears” of same-sex and interracial couples in the wake of the Dobbs decision regarding abortion.
“We are not pushing this legislation to make history,” Baldwin said Tuesday. “We are doing this to make a difference for millions upon millions of Americans.”
Republicans who voted against the measure argued that it was unnecessary, given they do not believe the Supreme Court would reverse itself or said that it was not protective enough of religious freedom.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) listed numerous groups who are against the bill, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and said the bill puts “religious liberty at risk” for many Americans. Other Republican senators, including Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, echoed similar concerns.
The new federal law leaves untouched the rules in 35 states, where same-sex marriages are banned in their constitution, state law or both, according to a recent Pew report. Those laws could go back into effect if the Supreme Court overturns its 2015 ruling, raising anxieties for people like Josh Roth, a 33-year-old fundraiser living in Orlando. Roth said if marriage equality becomes federal law, it will only temporarily make him feel safer.
Roth said he is concerned that his home state may challenge federal protections. The Republican legislature quietly shelved a proposal earlier this year to repeal a law on the books barring same-sex marriages in the state. The continued political uncertainty has shaped his own decision to marry his longtime partner. They got engaged last August, but after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Roth and his partner discussed whether they needed to move up their wedding date.
“If there’s any state in the union that’s going to try to challenge Obergefellit’s going to Florida,” Roth said.
As debates continue over whether to limit discussions of LGBTQ issues in schools and how to approach transgender issues, some LGBTQ advocates say there are lessons to be learned from the success in same-sex marriage.
“We spent two decades, now three decades, educating around marriage equality and what it means to be in a same-sex relationship,” said David Stacy, the head of government affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group. “These are concepts that people are still getting familiar with.”
Marriage equality, said Simon, of the group GLAAD, is “a great success — but it’s not everything.”