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The Nikkei View

Xi Jinping's desire to outshine Jiang Zemin era is a tall order

President has much to learn from late leader's flexible economic policies

Former presidents Jiang Zemin, right, and Hu Jintao are seen at the Chinese Communist Party's national congress in 2012. (Photo by Katsuji Nakazawa)

The late Jiang Zemin's time as China's leader was marked by a focus on the economy, rather than socialist ideology, and an effort to open up the country. Under his watch, China joined the World Trade Organization and made big strides toward becoming the second-largest economy.

Jiang's policies contrast starkly with those of current President Xi Jinping, who pursues a hard-line foreign policy and squeezes China's private information technology giants. The flexible approaches followed by former presidents Jiang and Hu Jintao offer important lessons for Xi.

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