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Former Chinese Leader Jiang Zemin Set to Exit Government

China's former Communist Party chief and president, Jiang Zemin, plans to leave government, resigning from his last official position. His departure will mark the end of a long career.

The post is largely symbolic, but former Communist Party Chief and Chinese leader Jiang Zemin plans to resign as head the state Central Military Commission.

According to Chinese state media, Mr. Jiang asked permission from the National People's Congress, China's parliament, to resign. The congress is expected to accept his resignation when it convenes for its annual session in March.

Mr. Jiang's departure has been expected since September, when he handed the more powerful position of Communist party head of the military over to his successor, President Hu Jintao.

David Zweig, a professor at Hong Kong's University of Science and Technology, explains.

"Hu Jintao was already the pre-eminent leader in China," professor Zweig said. "This is really just a figurehead position that Jiang had held on to."

Nevertheless, Mr. Jiang's final exit from government service ends a long career in politics.

He served as mayor of Shanghai in the mid-1980s before becoming the country's Communist Party chief in 1989 and its president in 1993.

Mr. Jiang helped transform China's outdated economy into one of the world's fastest growing, all the while strengthening the Communist Party's control of government at a time when economic change and international pressures cast a question over its relevance.

But Mr. Zweig says Mr. Jiang will be best remembered for managing China's admission to the World Trade Organization.

"He led a decade of remarkable growth, economic growth in China, and it's continued," he said.

Mr. Jiang stepped down as Communist Party leader in 2002 and relinquished the state presidency the following year.

President Hu is expected to take control of the state military commission in March, bringing to an end the complete transfer of power from Mr. Jiang - the last China's leaders to have taken part in the Communist Party revolution.