Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who came to power after the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in 1989, died on Wednesday, reported Reuters.

The 96-year-old politician died of leukaemia and multiple organ failure in his home city of Shanghai, state-run Xinhua news agency said, citing a letter to the Chinese people by the ruling Communist Party, Parliament, Cabinet and the military announcing the news.

“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.

The heavy crackdown on Tiananmen Square protestors in 1989 had sparked a power struggle at the top of the Communist Party between hard-line reactionaries and reformers. That is when Jiang, a bureaucrat at the time, was elevated to the office of the president. He was seen as the leader who could unify hardliners and more liberal elements of the Communist Party.

Jiang is credited for leading China out of diplomatic isolation that the country faced after the pro-democracy protests. He also worked on improving bilateral relations with the United States.

He is known for successfully reintegrating China back into the international community by overseeing the peaceful handover of Hong Kong from British colonial to a sovereign state in 1997, winning the bid to host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and joining the World Trade Organization.