Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin died at 96 on Wednesday.
The cause of the former president’s death in Shanghai at 12:13 p.m. local time was given as leukemia and multiple organ failure. Zemin served as China’s president from 1993 through 2003, according to China’s news agency Xinhua.
Zemin was “an outstanding leader enjoying high prestige acknowledged by the whole Party, the entire military and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups, a great Marxist, a great proletarian revolutionary, statesman, military strategist and diplomat, a long-tested communist fighter, and an outstanding leader of the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” read a letter addressing the Communist Party of China and others.
Zemin was born on Aug. 17, 1926, in Yangzhou, and he graduated from university with an engineering degree in 1947. He became the mayor of Shanghai in 1985 and was set to retire in 1989 before the Tiananmen Square protest massacre that took place on June 3 and 4 of that year, according to NBC News.
In the weeks after the massacre, Zemin became general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, which was China’s most powerful position in the country. He then went on to serve as the country’s president in 1993, a tenure during which he earned the nickname “toad king” due to his resemblance to a toad.
Zemin was able to recite President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and once sang “Love Me Tender,” a song by Elvis Presley, according to NPR.
Zemin is survived by his wife and two sons.