Remembering Li Keqiang: The Impact of China’s Former Premier’s Passing

China bid a quiet farewell to its former premier, Li Keqiang, who passed away from a heart attack. As the nation mourns his loss, the funeral and the reaction to his death have implications for China’s political landscape and the legacy of Li’s leadership. Li’s funeral was held at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing, where crowds gathered to pay their respects. The somber tone of the funeral stands in contrast to the outpouring of grief and praise from ordinary Chinese citizens. This response reflects not only mourning for Li personally but also a sense of longing for a more open and optimistic time in China’s history.
Li was once seen as a potential future leader of China, but he was overtaken by Xi Jinping, who has centralized power during his tenure. The muted state media coverage of Li’s funeral and the emphasis on rallying around Xi’s leadership suggest a shift towards a more authoritarian and nationalist direction in China. Li’s death highlights the struggles he faced in implementing economic reforms under Xi’s administration. While Li focused on reducing the wealth gap and providing affordable housing, Xi’s leadership has seen a stronger grip on China’s economy, raising concerns among foreign businesses.
Li’s passing has also sparked an outpouring of tributes and remembrances across the country. Many citizens laid chrysanthemum bouquets in Li’s honor, with cards bearing his words expressing their admiration. Li’s emphasis on addressing domestic issues and his pragmatism resonated with the Chinese public, making him a relatable and beloved leader. However, his final years in office were marked by sidelining from the party’s top decision-making body, signaling Xi’s consolidation of power.
The reaction to Li’s death is not limited to offline tributes but has also extended into online platforms. Despite attempts at managing comments, Chinese social media platform Weibo saw millions of views and thousands of comments related to Li’s passing. This scale of mourning reflects the people’s deep regard for Li, even though such comments were swiftly censored by authorities.
Li Keqiang’s legacy will be remembered as a symbol of a potential alternative path for China. His more liberal and less ideological outlook set him apart, even if he did not visibly challenge Xi’s priorities. The public mourning and reflection on Li’s leadership highlight a yearning for a different future for China. As the nation bids farewell to Li, it is crucial to recognize the impact of his passing on China’s political landscape and the implications for Xi’s leadership.