Li Keqiang, an English-speaking economist, was a candidate to lead the Communist Party in 2013 but was passed over for Xi Jinping. Xi centralized power, leaving Li with little influence. Li promised to improve conditions for entrepreneurs, but Xi increased the dominance of state industry and tightened control over other sectors. Li was dropped from the party’s ruling committee in 2022, while Xi awarded himself a third term as party leader and filled top ranks with loyalists. Li took office in 2013 during a period of economic decline, and he advocated for growth based on domestic consumption and opening more state-dominated industries. However, his predecessor Wen Jiabao acknowledged a lack of progress in 2012. Li was seen as a possible candidate for market-oriented reforms but was known for his easygoing style. He supported the “China 2030” report, which called for reducing state dominance. Xi took away Li’s decision-making powers, and the government focused on an anti-graft campaign but neglected the economy. China suffered economic contraction in 2022 due to stricter debt controls. Li also faced challenges and disasters while serving as governor and party secretary of Henan province. He oversaw China’s response to COVID-19 and announced the relaxation of anti-virus controls before leaving office. Li was born in 1955 and held various party posts before receiving a Ph.D. in economics.
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