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China’s Former Premier Li Keqiang Dead of Heart Attack at 68

Leo Timm
Leo Timm covers China-related news, culture, and history. Follow him on Twitter at @kunlunpeaks
Published: October 26, 2023
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks at the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on March 5, 2022. (Image: via REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

On Oct. 27, various Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-run media reported the sudden death from “sudden heart failure” of Li Keqiang, who served as China’s premier for a decade, in Shanghai. He was 68.

Li, who took office with current leader Xi Jinping in 2013, served as the second-highest ranking official of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) until early this year, being replaced for the role by Li Qiang (no relation).

“Despite all efforts” by medical personnel to treat the former premier, Li expired at 10 minutes past midnight on Friday, Oct. 27, according to Party media.

Li Keqiang was known as a political ally of Xi Jinping throughout his tenure, as well as a technocrat who stressed the need for solid economic development. According to China-watchers, prior to taking office in 2013, Li had been the favored candidate of outgoing CCP leader Hu Jintao.


The choice of Xi for Communist Party general secretary, meanwhile, was a compromise between Hu and the powerful faction associated with Hu’s own predecessor Jiang Zemin.

Towards the end of the second five-year term of the Xi-Li administration, political rumors and speculation describing a split between the PRC president (Xi’s government position) and premier proliferated widely.

In addition to his post as PRC premier, Li was the second-ranked member of the seven-man CCP Politburo Standing Committee (PbSC).