Former Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Passes Away at Age 66

Former Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Passes Away at Age 66
Former Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaking at the EU-China Summit in Brussels, Belgium in 2019. (photo: Thierry Monasse)

On the morning of 27 October, the world mourned the passing of former Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, a leader who navigated China through a complex period in history, who lost his life to a sudden heart attack in Shanghai, China.

Li Keqiang, a highly educated technocrat, served as China’s Premier for a decade, from 2013 to March 2023. He was a strong advocate for economic stability and employment, particularly amid the global challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, and ongoing trade tensions with the United States.

During his tenure, Li Keqiang often emphasized the common interests between China and the United States, and urged both nations to focus on areas of convergence and mutual benefit, even as diplomatic relations grew strained.

Another one of Li Keqiang’s missions was strengthening the bonds between China and Laos. He consistently worked to enhance their diplomatic relationship, with a focus on political trust, mutual cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges.

On a number of meetings with Lao diplomats in 2022, including Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith and former Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh, the Chinese leader highlighted the long-standing friendship between the two countries and reiterated the importance of enhancing mutual cooperation in clean energy, customs clearance facilitation, and agricultural trade. Additionally, he extended support for Lao students returning to China for their higher education and strongly supported the Laos-China Railway project as a key means to enhance bilateral import-export. 

While Li Keqiang’s leadership earned high praise from some, the region is now poised to take the reins and address the very issues he was passionate about, such as economic development, poverty alleviation, and regional cooperation.