China’s former Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, passed away at the age of 68 due to a sudden heart attack in Shanghai on Thursday, October 27, 2023. This news was reported by Chinese state media. Li Keqiang was associated with a reformist ideology and was seen as a prospective leader in the country. However, during his time as Prime Minister, President Xi Jinping appeared to sideline him. Li Keqiang had served under Xi Jinping for ten years.
According to Xinhua News Agency, Li Keqiang suffered a heart attack on Thursday, October 26, and he passed away at 12:10 on Friday in Shanghai. Li Keqiang had cultivated an image as a more modern figure compared to staunch party loyalists. He was known for his proficiency in speaking fluent English and had spoken in favor of economic reforms during his tenure.
Li Keqiang held a degree in law and had worked within the party’s framework for decades, adhering to the rules. During his tenure as party chief in Henan province, an HIV-AIDS outbreak occurred due to a tainted blood campaign. This incident had tarnished his reputation. In response, local officials criticized him harshly and held media and officials accountable, leading to a national-level investigation into the medical scandal.
Li Keqiang, the son of a minor party official in eastern China’s Anhui province, held a law degree from Peking University. In the 1980s and 1990s, he served as a top party official in Henan and Liaoning provinces. During this time, both regions experienced economic development.
When Li Keqiang stepped down from the premiership in 2023, the Chinese economy was in a precarious state, primarily due to the COVID-induced downturn. He had been China’s number two leader from 2013-23 and was known for his proponent stance towards private businesses. However, during this period, President Xi Jinping worked to consolidate power and establish himself as the most powerful Chinese leader in a decade. He imposed stringent control over the economy and society, leaving Li Keqiang with minimal authority.
Li Keqiang’s passing marks the end of an era in Chinese politics, and his contributions and legacy will be remembered in the context of China’s ongoing political developments.