How China mourned Li Keqiang online until censors intervened

How China mourned Li Keqiang online until censors intervened

He posted videos of the time on social media when he promised that China would remain open to the outside world. He shared pictures of him meeting flood victims while standing in ankle-deep mud. He also noted the economic growth target for the first year of his prime ministership: 7.5 percent.

The death of 68-year-old Li Keqiang on Friday sparked online mourning. Mr. Li served as the premier, China’s No. 2 official, for a decade until last March.

Among many Chinese, Mr. Li’s death sparked nostalgia for what he represented: a time of greater economic possibility and openness to private business. The reaction was disturbing and reflects dissatisfaction in China with the leadership of China’s hardline leader Xi Jinping, who won an unprecedented third term in office last year after maneuvering to end the long-standing two-term limit. Had achieved.

In a series of posts on social media, people praised Mr Li more for what he stood for and said, rather than what he was able to achieve under Mr Xi, who has Economic policy formulation was taken forward during his tenure.

Mr Lee was probably the least powerful Prime Minister History of the People’s Republic of China. The grief over his passing reflects the public’s sense of the loss of an era of reform and development that has been abandoned, and their deep sense of powerlessness in the China of Mr Xi, the most authoritarian leader since Mao Zedong.

A post widely circulated on several social media sites said many Chinese people see themselves in Mr. Li – people “who have struggled over the past decade but gradually lost their ground.”

The most widely shared posts are short videos of Mr Li promising that China’s door to the outside world will remain open: “Just like the Yangtze River and the Yellow River cannot flow backwards.” Some videos were later removed or could not be shared due to censorship imposed in China.

Several posts expressing shock over his sudden death on social media platform Weibo were censored. There were comments that referred to him as “a good Prime Minister for the people” and “a great man”. The comments that were allowed were mostly along the lines of “rest in peace.”

For many in China, Mr. Li’s death sparked frustration, anger and concern over what they see as Mr. Xi’s mishandling of the economy. Mr Xi went after the private sector, undermining some of China’s most successful companies. He alienated some of China’s biggest trading partners and moved closer to countries like Russia, while replacing reform-minded leaders with loyalists. Mr Xi shifted the government’s focus from economics to ideology.

To them, Mr Lee, who had degrees in law and economics, represented the pragmatic technocrats who lifted the country out of poverty in the 1990s and 2000s. he recited it opening remarks In his first press conference after becoming Prime Minister in 2013.

Mr Lee had said, “We will be loyal to the Constitution, loyal to the people and take the people’s wishes as the direction of our governance.”

Commenting on his death, people said that they could not believe that the national growth target at that time was 7.5 percent. China’s economy missed its 5.5 percent target for 2022 and many analysts believe it will miss less ambitious targets this year.

He read Mr. Lee’s most famous quote: β€œpower should not be arbitrary” And “Interests are harder to touch than souls,

Many business owners and investors shared photos of themselves with Mr Lee, a champion of entrepreneurship and innovation, when he visited their companies. Recalling the encouragement of new products and new business models by the government, he described those days as the golden days of entrepreneurship. “They abandoned us suddenly,” wrote an Internet businessman surnamed Ding. “And he took the golden age with him.”

they posted pictures of him visit to wuhan In January 2020, when Covid wreaked havoc in the city. Mr Xi did not visit until nearly two months after the initial spread of the virus was contained. He posted photos of Mr Lee meeting flood and earthquake victims. Mr Xi is known for staying away from the scenes of disasters.

he also shared a set of photos Mr Lee’s cordial talks with other government leaders, Odd Those scenes of Mr Xi’s imperious body language when appearing with his aides.

Some expressed gratitude for Mr. Li’s honesty when he said at a press conference in 2020 that China may be the world’s second-largest economy, but there are 600 million people whose monthly income is $150. It was seen as a blow to Mr Xi’s claims of overcoming poverty.

A former journalist known by Yan Xiaoyun wrote, “There are no perfect people, and there are no perfect politicians.” “People should not forget Premier Lee’s courage in exposing the truth.”

The public reaction on Friday was the most significant outburst of emotion since the White Paper movement last November, when thousands of Chinese people in several cities took to the streets to protest the country’s harsh “zero Covid” policies and many more expressed anger online. Joined.

The death of senior leaders is always a sensitive occasion in Chinese politics. Some journalists and commentators speculated whether Mr. Li’s death might lead to protests like those in 1989, when Hu Yaobang, the former head of the Chinese Communist Party, died suddenly of a heart attack. Most concluded that this probably would not happen because Mr. Xi maintains tight control over the Internet. People speculated that Mr. Li would likely not be given a high-profile funeral like Mr. Hu.

In contrast to the public outpouring of grief, China’s official media initially downplayed Mr. Li’s death. 100 words Announcement After Mr Xi’s meeting with California Governor Gavin Newsom, it was listed as the third or fourth top item news on all major news websites. Or Mr Xi’s new book on civil affairs work.

This low-key behavior struck a chord with people online because it reflected Mr Xi’s disrespectful and contemptuous behavior towards Mr Li even after Mr Xi’s death.

β€œHe lived in despair and died in anger,” a Chinese journalist told me. “But aren’t we all like that?”

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