Former Top China Economic Official Dead at 68

( – China’s former premier, Li Keqiang, died of a heart attack recently.

Li’s death comes only a few months after resigning as China’s second most powerful government official. He had a reputation as a reformer, especially in terms of the economy, but had closer ties to former president Hu Jintao than to the man who succeeded him, the current president, Xi Jinping.

The former premier was poised to take over from Hu, who headed China using a more consensus-based form or leadership. However, he was passed over in favor of Xi, who instead of continuing his predecessor’s leadership style, did a complete 180-degree turn and consolidated all government power into his own hands.

A trained economist, Li inspired the creation of the “Li Keqiang Index,” an unofficial means of measuring the economy through the use of rail cargo, bank lending, and electricity consumption. Many of his economic policies and stances, which had a focus on private business, were directly at odds with Xi’s strong emphasis on strengthening state industry.

Ian Chong who is affiliated with the Carnegie China think tank as non-resident scholar, told the BBC that Li’s death meant that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has lost a “prominent moderating voice,” which Chong said in turn would mean even “less restraint” on President Xi’s wielding of influence and power in the country.

Some observed that Beijing was taken by surprise by Li’s death, only issuing an official obituary some 10 hours after Li was reported to have passed away after all “rescue efforts” failed. The Chinese government’s official statement praised Li’s contribution to China’s growth.

Li served as premier for two terms – holding the post since 2013 – before stepping down in March of this year. He was 68 years old.

Xi continued on for a third term as president, and appointed Li Qiang as the new premier. The new premier was the former party secretary for Shanghai and a known loyalist and supporter of Xi.

Copyright 2023,