Li Keqiang: The reformer and Xi’s counterpart is dead

Li Keqiang: The reformer and Xi’s counterpart is dead
Li Keqiang’s last photo with Xi Jinping in March 2023

If former Chinese head of state Hu Jintao had had his way, Li Keqiang would have become the strong man of the People’s Republic and the Communist Party instead of Xi Jinping. But Hu had made the calculation without Jiang Zemin, his predecessor as state and party leader, and his Shanghai faction. Xi implemented this in the standing committee of the Politburo. Li “only” became prime minister and nominally number two in the nomenklatura of the People’s Republic. Just a few months after his – not entirely voluntary – departure from office, Li died of a heart attack yesterday at the age of 68, according to an official statement.

One of the most important tasks in the Prime Minister’s Office is controlling the economy. For ten years in this position, Li always took a milder and more business-friendly tone than Xi. He tried to mitigate the CP’s market interventions, but rarely with noticeable success.

However, he never openly challenged Xi. He probably also lacked the power base to do so. Towards the end of his term in office, he was increasingly marginalized in the power apparatus, while Xi de facto linked tasks of all ministries, including the economic sector, to the Communist Party.

Li resigned from the Politburo in 2022 and relinquished the premiership at the beginning of the year. He was no longer given any further tasks, even though he was below the traditional age limit for officials. Xi, on the other hand, went against the norm and secured a third term in office. By the way, many people also remember an image: When Xi had his predecessor Hu Jintao humiliatedly led out of the plenary hall in public at the most recent party congress in autumn 2022, he patted Li Keqiang on the shoulder as he walked, who then just nodded at him could.

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Source: Nachrichten

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