Updated: Jan 17
Li Keqiang is a member of the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) and is the Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Li Keqiang was born into a middle class family in 1955. Alongside future General Secretary Xi Jinping and other Chinese youth of the era, he was sent to work in the country doing hard labor during Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution. Little is known about Keqiang's family, other than the fact his father was a former member of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and low-level party official at the time of his birth.
University Education & Early Employment
Unlike other members of China's ruling class, Li Keqiang was a truly self-made man. According to rumors on Chinese social media (always to be taken with a grain of salt), Li turned down his father's offer to provide him with a local Communist Party position as a cadre. Instead, he successfully gained access to one of the PRC's most prestigious educational centers, Peking University, based solely on his national entrance exam grades.
Li began studying at Peking in 1978, with a special focus on law and international relations. He also spent a great deal of time studying English on his own time, thus fermenting his position as a future leader in the People's Republic of China. One year into his studies, Li began translating Lord Denning's famed work, The Due Process of Law. According to an associate of Keqiang, Yang Baikui, the text enshrined several ideas in the young man's mind, "I’m not sure about democracy. But I'm sure he believes in constitutional government. And also the rule of law."
In May of 1976, Li became a member of the Communist Party of China. Around the same time, he became deeply involved in the Communist Youth League (CYL), the Red Chinese version of Boy Scouts of America. Although several friends of Keqiang believed he would be an ally of the democracy movement that swept across China in the 1980s, all hopes were dashed following the CPC's brutal crackdown on unarmed protestors and activists in 1989. As his former friends were being cut down in the streets, Li worked tirelessly in a government office as a member of the Secretariat of the CYL Central Committee.
Throughout the 1990s, Li proved his loyalty to the Communist Party in a variety of positions throughout Chinese territory. His success culminated in his appointment to the governorship of Henan in 2004. Although his image in this position was slightly damaged due to responses to several natural disasters and a serious public health crisis, he managed to dramatically improved economic performance. He would repeat this economic feat in Liaoning, one of China's many industrialized provinces.
Current Political Standing
Li has been described as fiercely loyal to the advancement of state interests, although this has sometimes put him at odds with the Communist Party. Specifically, Keqiang has repeatedly decried China's falsification of strategic economic data. As one leaked American diplomatic cable reads, Li told the US ambassador to the PRC in 2007 that, "economic figures are unreliable" and that "official corruption was the biggest cause of public resentment".
The Intelligence Ledger assesses that despite the fact he abhors corruption, bureaucracy, and extra-judicial actions, Li is not a reformer nor sign of hope for western republics and democracies. He has done little to prevent the spread of authoritarianism in the PRC, and continues to promote questionable economic practices for the benefit of China.
According to sources within the United States government, Li maintains a notoriously shrewd approach to foreign policy negotiations. When an American delegation delivered China with an unfriendly economic ultimatum during high level negotiations last year, Li reportedly remarked, "we no longer need the United States. We have our own technological and industrial sectors." However, when a trade war erupted between the two powers in 2019, Li sought to mend the relationship by offering a series of concessions to the United States.
Li is purportedly married to an English literature professor, Cheng Hong, and has at least one daughter that attended university in the United States of America.