Former Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who served as China’s premier for a decade from 2013 to March 2022, has died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 68. During his time in office, Li faced numerous challenges, including rising technology and trade tensions with the US, mounting government debt and unemployment, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite these challenges, Li was known for his ability to navigate China’s economy through difficult times. He warned of the challenges posed by the Covid-19 lockdowns and supported efforts to boost employment and maintain economic stability. Li’s focus on addressing societal issues, such as poverty and unemployment, was appreciated by many social media users.
However, Li’s death has sparked discussion about his differing approach to China’s ties with the world. As relations with the West grow increasingly strained, many wonder how Li’s departure will impact the future direction of China’s foreign policy.
Li was a highly educated technocrat who supported the private sector and advocated for the continuation of China’s economic reform and opening policy. His approach was seen as different from the current leader Xi Jinping, and their differing views on stimulating the economy during the pandemic were evident.
Li rose to power through the Communist Party’s Youth League and was seen as a protege of former leader Hu Jintao. However, his influence waned in recent years, as he was not named to the party’s Central Committee in the leadership reshuffle last October. His departure from power leaves few reform-minded leaders in China’s leadership.
Li’s successor as premier is Li Qiang, a loyalist to Xi Jinping. With Li’s exit from power, there are concerns about the lack of reform-minded leaders in China’s leadership. It remains to be seen how Li Qiang will navigate the country’s economic challenges and relations with the world.