Li Keqiang

Premier of China

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Official Stats

  • Official Title: Premier
  • Government: One-Party State
  • Years Left in Office: To 2017; renewable
  • Political Classification: Right
  • Education: PhD Economics
  • Age: 68 (born July 1, 1955)

Li Keqiang Facts and Information

Important Points

  • Li is currently the premier of People’s Republic of China, a position he will likely hold until the year 2023.
  • Li has been a member of Communist Party of China since 1976.
  • Li is an economist, which differs greatly from his predecessors whose background is engineering.
  • Popular opinion in mainland China is Li and Xi has done better jobs than China’s past leaders.
  • Unlike his predecessors, Li is fluent in English, which allows him to talk directly with other heads of countries without translators.

The Rundown

Can you believe China has undergone its second leadership transition during its period of unprecedented growth?  That is correct.  Wen Jiabao is not calling the shots anymore as premier of China.  Li Keqiang is now fully in control of the premiership.  One might wonder about China, since they are all communists and strive for one goal so there is nothing different about Li compared with Wen right?  Wrong, and if you actually believe that, you should immediately depart whatever time portal you are in and enter the 21st century.

Li Keqiang (last name first, given name second) was born in July 1955.  His father was a local official in a small Chinese town.  Li’s first experience with the Chinese Communist Party was the Great Leap Forward, which was a precursor movement to the Cultural Revolution, and ended around the time he graduated from high school during his coming of age years.  Li refused his father’s offer of local government grooming in favor of college, he would go on to receive a PhD in Economics.  DOCTOR Li (not Mr. Li) enrolled in the communist party of China and started his rapid ascension in 1976.  He would to enter the top leadership of the Communist Youth League and is known as the League’s first members ever to hold such a high ranking position in the Chinese Government.  Li is living proof joining clubs and leagues in College do really pay off!

As a prominent and influential communist party member, he rapidly ascended the totem pole in terms of leadership positions: People’s Congress Chairperson, Provincial Committee Secreatary, Chairman of the National Security Commission, Three Gorges Project Committee Director.  With a more than adequate resume under his belt, Li was elected to the Politburo Standing Committee in 2007.

What is the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC)?  It is only the most powerful decision making committee in all of China.  A team of seven people elected to this committee meets once a week and makes decisions by overwhelming majority, for the overall direction of mother China.  Each member of this committee has a position in which is assigned to, such as the economy, internal security, legislation, even the formation of propaganda.  George Orwell’s vision in fruition!

During his time in the PSC, he took on the most important positions in the government, presumably as an audition for his upcoming premiership.  As a premier in waiting, he was able to communicate to the entire World his long term vision for China’s development in front of world political leaders.  In March of 2013, Li was elected by China 12th National People’s Congress as Premier.  Even though he was elected for one five year term, he is expected to serve two terms, like his predecessor Wen Jiabao.  After assuming the premiership, Forbes Magazine ranked Li as the 14th of The World’s Most Powerful People.  How about them fortune cookies?

Considered by many within the Communist party to be a younger version of past President Hu Jintao, Li’s leadership style is as unique as the man he is.  Known to be outspoken, he is not a very showy or ostentatious leader.  While beginning as a prominent member of the Communist party, Li refused to participate in any fancy events or banquets unrelated to government activities.  This gave the correct representation of a leader free of corruption, however, it did rub some of the Chinese known for traditional business practices (ie. drinking people in exchange for business under the table) the wrong way.

Under Xi Jinping, what will be on Li’s plate?  A whole bevy of issues:

1- Air Pollution.  The current fastest growing nation in the World comes with its consequences.  Just imagine this fact: however long it took the United States to assume top five global leader status in the World (which many scholars will say occurred after World War II, that is about at least 40 years), China achieved similar or comparable status as top five growing nations in the World in around TEN years!  Holy Kung Pao Chicken!  As a result, China has had the worst pollution levels record in the World.  It is so bad that measured air pollution in capital city Beijing and also in Shanghai are OFF the charts, which means it is so outrageously high.  In response to these out of the world air pollution recordings, China has started to ban cars that are not in compliance with emission standards.  Also, car license plates have now been harder to come by.  Many factories in China are being shut down in light of stringent laws aimed at cracking down on air pollution.  Time will only tell if these measures will help and most of how these new laws fall on Li to see they are followed through in full.

2- Corruption.  As a man who preached anti-corruption for as long as he was a member of the Communist Party of China, Li is the perfect person to combat what is government officials and bureaucrats living in extravagant excess.  Many rumors and stories have reported of officials soliciting prostitutes, top generals displaying outrageous wealth with little regard of the public, and even top ranking generals accepting money and gifts for family members.  Not only for himself, but family members!  Xi and Li have taken a hardline stance against any sort of corruption involving government officials and more indictments, trials or uncovering of massive kickbacks will be done while Li is in charge, you can be sure of that!

3- Regional Border Disputes.  At the transfer of power between Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, both Japan and China both touched off controversies involving the Senakaku (or Diaoyutai) Islands near the Japan/Taiwan territories.  In response to Japan’s growing reassertion over territories close to its country, China made its most provocative move yet in late 2013: by asserting its “Air Defense Identification Zone” (AIDZ), incurring on other territories not just including Japan but also most notably affecting Taiwan, South Korea and Russia in the process.  China vowed to patrol its AIDZ with the most utmost defense; this means all aircraft flying through this zone would be required to identify itself in advance to Chinese officials.  This drew sharp rebukes from nearly every country in the region, and also the United States and Russia.  Look for Li to toe the line in regards to China border disputes.  While emphasizing and re-affirming China’s sovereignty, Li will also look to appeal to other countries, such as Taiwan, Russia and the United States, to soften its country to country relations while looking to stabilize diplomatic ties in the region (the United States has already thrown its weight behind Japan in transitioning Japan’s Self-Defense force into full fledged military.  Only time will tell if a Cold War relic will be awakened, or perhaps, re-ignited).

While his predecessor Wen Jiabao did a good job of holding things at bay while China experienced its monumental growth in the past few years, look for Li to be more aggressive with his leadership.  Li has previously given speeches about how China will reaffirm its commitment to green energy, addressing the growing income gap and modernization of key industries at the heart of China.  Li is already on the clock.  Will he continue China’s torrid growth and expansion in the past ten years, or will Li be witness to a China recession and downfall?  We, as spectators, can only wait and see.


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