Li Keqiang: China’s former premier dies of heart attack

State broadcaster CCTV reported the senior politician, who served as premier for a decade, died in Shanghai

Li Keqiang during a trip to Switzerland in 2013, the year he became China's premier. Reuters
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China's former premier Li Keqiang has died of a heart attack aged 68, state media said on Friday.

"Comrade Li Keqiang, while resting in Shanghai in recent days, experienced a sudden heart attack on October 26 and after all-out efforts to revive him failed, died in Shanghai at 12.10am on October 27," state broadcaster CCTV reported.

The former Chinese premier and head of China's cabinet served under President Xi Jinping for a decade from 2013, retiring in March.

Li ascended the political ladder after challenging stints as party chief in the provinces of Liaoning and Henan.

After losing to Mr Xi for the role as president, Li became premier and carved out a policy platform based on cutting red tape and taxes on business.

He memorably said in 2020 that more than 600 million people in China earned less than the equivalent of $140 a month, sparking a wider debate on poverty and income inequality.

Li also championed “new style urbanisation,” which encouraged city growth to be linked with providing employment and public services.

But his role diminished when Mr Xi moved key economic policy decisions to a series of party committees led by himself and his trusted economic aide, Liu He.

Li spent much of his time responding to crises and ensuring that officials followed the Chinese leader’s decisions.

He was replaced as premier by Li Qiang in March this year.

Updated: October 27, 2023, 6:33 AM