Chinese Premier Li Keqiang set in an awkward situation

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The recent clash between China’s Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman Xi Jinping has attracted much attention. On July 31 at 10:30 am, the completion and opening ceremony of the Beidou-3 global satellite navigation system was held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The live CCTV footage shows that after the Communist Party’s top officials are seated in the front row, starting about three minutes into the video, Vice Premier Liu He takes the stage to read out the list of leaders attending the ceremony, and Liu, a direct subordinate of Li Keqiang, “accidentally” publicly humiliates Li while toadying up to Xi Jinping.

The footage shows Liu He first reading: “Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, President of the People’s Republic of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission”. After the following applause, Liu left enough time for Xi to get up and salute. Next, Liu introduced the Premier Li Keqiang, but after the applause, the moment Li got up to salute, Liu immediately read the name of the next standing committee member Han Zheng, followed by Ding Xuexiang, not giving Li any face and leaving him visibly embarrassed. In addition, the footage shows Xi Jinping shooting a scornful sideways glance at Li Keqiang afterwards.

Since Xi Jinping took office, Li Keqiang has always been a supporting character, especially after the 19th CPC National Congress, when Xi proclaimed himself as “the highest authority”. But it is still surprising to see Li being so publicly humiliated. One netizen said, “after this Beidou-3 incident, it can be seen that Li Keqiang still hasn’t realized his own position. After Liu He read Xi Jinping’s name, Li was still adjusting his suit and thought that he could enjoy the same special treatment”.

On July 24, the Free Asia website had published an article by commentator Gaoxin, which used the history of Xi and Li’s rise to power to interpret the recently popular power struggle story between the two. The article pointed out that Li Keqiang was supposed to be the successor built up by former chairman Hu Jintao. Which means the successor for general secretary and becoming the paramount leader of the Communist regime. Therefore, just from the time Li Keqiang and Xi Jinping joined the Central Committee, Xi truly was a “latecomer” compared to Li.

In the fall of 2007 during the 17th CPC National Congress, Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang both jumped directly from being Central Committee members to joining the Politburo Standing Committee. Afterwards, a public article from a website in mainland China said that CCP top officials must have considered Xi and Li’s academic qualifications and business expertise when evaluating them. Xi Jinping has a Ph.D. in Marxism-Leninism and ideological and political education, and Li Keqiang has a Ph.D. in economics. Therefore, Xi was placed as the successor to the general secretary and Li was placed as the successor to the premier. Out of the seven current members of the Standing Committee, only Li Keqiang graduated from a formal university. As for the other six: Xi Jinping, along with Wang Huning and Zhao Leji, were all worker-peasant-soldier students. These were students during the later parts of the Cultural Revolution, between 1970 and 1976, who enrolled in colleges and universities based on their “class background” rather than their academic qualifications. They would study for two to three years, and half of their time were spent on “studying agriculture, industry, the army, and Mao’s works,” plus at least one year of “remedial cultural courses,” which taught basic cultural lessons. The other three members: Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang and Han Zheng never attended a formal college or university.

Recently, there’s been talk within the upper levels of the CCP that Li Keqiang is using this opportunity to resist Xi Jinping, which has also been the focus of attention in foreign media.

Wu Te said in an interview with an overseas media outlet that Xi and Li were once seen by many as political allies, but that only made sense when they needed to come together in the face of their common enemy, the faction of former CCP leader Jiang Zemin. Now that Xi has taken over the reins of power, and Li’s preference for a market-oriented economy doesn’t match Xi’s, their political disagreement has started evolving into a power struggle. Xi created a bunch of groups, which later became committees, to overshadow Li, but then Li continued to expose the CCP‘s economic past to spite Xi, and a split or even breakup between the two has become inevitable. In the event of future changes, Xi and Li are likely to take different courses of action, accelerating the collapse of the Communist regime.

Source: China Observer

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