Former Premier Li Keqiang, a long-time economic official in China, has passed away at the age of 68. Li, who served as China’s No. 2 leader from 2013 to 2023, had seen his authority diminish under President Xi Jinping’s tightening control over the economy and society.
Li was known for advocating for private businesses and promising improvements for entrepreneurs. However, during Xi’s leadership, the ruling party increased the dominance of state industries, undermining Li’s efforts. As a result, Li was dropped from the party’s ruling committee in 2022, while Xi awarded himself a third five-year term as party leader, breaking the tradition of his predecessors stepping down after ten years.
Considered a potential candidate to revive market-oriented reforms, Li’s easygoing style was well-received. However, he faced challenges during his time in office, including weak consumer spending and a widening wealth gap between prosperous cities and the impoverished countryside.
Li’s government launched an anti-graft campaign but failed to follow through on promised market-oriented reforms. Additionally, China encountered several deadly disasters under his leadership, such as a landslide in Tibet, a chemical explosion in Tianjin, and a plane crash.
Li also oversaw China’s response to COVID-19, implementing unprecedented controls that included the shutdown of international travel and major cities. However, in one of his final acts in office, Li led a Cabinet meeting to announce the relaxation of anti-virus controls.
Born in Anhui province in 1955, Li studied law at Peking University and later received his Ph.D. in economics from the same institution in 1994.
This obituary was written by former AP correspondent Joe McDonald and highlights the life and challenges faced by former Premier Li Keqiang during his tenure.
With a minimum word count of 300-400 words, this article provides a concise overview of Li’s career and the major events that took place under his leadership.