Li Keqiang, who in March will probably become Prime Minister of China, graduated from law school and obtained his doctorate in economics at the prestigious Peking University, making him the best-educated leader in the history of the PRC.
57-year-old Li currently holds the Deputy Prime Minister position, but his entry into the powerful Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is a clear announcement that it is likely in March 2013 he will succeed Wen Jiabao as prime minister.
Li’s education differs from people already ruling the country, such as Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao, most of whom are engineers. Hong Kong newspaper “South China Morning Post” writes many observers hope that the fact that he was a student of philosophy and an advocate of liberal democracy, including working with dissidents, may foreshadow the future prime minister’s reform ambitions.
Last year, he surprised the audience at the University of Hong Kong, breaking with protocol and giving his speech in English. His wife, Hong Cheng teaches linguistics and is an expert in the field of American literature.
English skills, a sense of humour and an engaging manner, Li had a positive impression on an American diplomat, according to a diplomatic telegram from 2007 published by the website Wikileaks. During their conversation, Li – the party secretary of Liaoning province in the north – has admitted that his region is facing many challenges, of which the largest public anger is at corruption. The best cure for that said Li is a transparent system of rules adequate to the control a system that corrupt officials do not have any room to manoeuvre.
According to observers, such a politician is more interested in the affairs of the lower strata of society, the problem of inequality of earnings, issues of health care and education.
Born in 1955 in Anhui province in eastern China, the son of a local official who was promoted to the elite of the party – as were Hu and Wen – and was active in the Communist Youth League.
In 1998, the 43-year-old Li became the youngest governor in the country, and the first having a doctorate when he came to rule in Henan province in central China. In 2003 he took over as the party boss in the region, and in 2004 became head of the CCP in the province of Liaoning in the north of the country. In 2007, Li was regarded as a rival to Xi in the fight for the presidency. It was at the 17th CCP congress that Li lost this fight, and would have to settle for the position of prime minister.
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