China’s former premier Li Keqiang dies at 68

Stay informed with free updates

Li Keqiang, China’s former premier under President Xi Jinping, has died aged 68, state media reported.

The senior Communist party official, who until March was the head of Xi’s cabinet and led economic policy for a decade, suffered a heart attack in Shanghai yesterday, Xinhua said.

“Despite all-out rescue efforts”, the former second-ranked official passed away 10 minutes past midnight on Friday, the state-run news agency reported.

The sudden death of a senior leader represents a challenging political moment for the party, which analysts said would rush to define Li’s legacy as it battles against an economic slowdown and increasing geopolitical tensions with the west.

“A lawyer by training, Li was considered a moderate voice and advocated for economic reform,” James Zimmerman, a political commentator on China, wrote on X, formerly Twitter. He added that Li was “viewed as a pragmatic leader, and less ideological” than Xi’s closer allies. Read more about the senior official once seen as a contender for party leadership.

Here’s what I’m also keeping tabs on today and at the weekend:

  • Economic data: The UK releases public sector debt and deficit numbers today, and Russia’s central bank announces its monetary policy decision.

  • Earnings: Air France-KLM, Aker BP, Aon, Danske Bank, Electrolux, Eni, Equinor, Holcim, IAG, NatWest Group and Rémy Cointreau report today.

  • G7 meeting: Trade ministers of member nations gather in Osaka, Japan, tomorrow.

How well did you keep up with the news this week? Take our quiz.

Five more top stories

1. The average payout for EY’s UK partners fell by more than £40,000 to £761,000 after a tumultuous year in which the Big Four firm tried to break up its audit and consulting operations before abandoning the plan. UK chair Hywel Ball said the drop in average profit per partner was primarily because of an increase in the number of equity partners.

2. The failure of the UK shadow chancellor’s publisher to spot apparent plagiarism has exposed falling standards in the industry. The Financial Times revealed yesterday that Rachel Reeves’s new book contained more than 20 examples of text that appeared to be taken from other works without acknowledgment. “This is potentially very serious,” said Conservative party chair Greg Hands, who pointed out that German cabinet ministers have resigned before because of plagiarism allegations.

3. Sam Bankman-Fried said he consulted with lawyers about critical decisions around passing client money from his FTX exchange to his private trading firm Alameda. In a preview of his planned defence in the criminal trial over the collapse of his cryptocurrency empire, Bankman-Fried repeatedly said that he had followed their advice when deciding on whether to retain internal documents, fund venture capital investments via loans to executives, or allow Alameda to receive FTX customer deposits.

4. British MPs have cast doubt on the government’s approach to tackling a record backlog in asylum claims, criticising the “unacceptable costs of an inefficient system”. House of Commons public accounts committee chair Dame Meg Hillier said a delay in processing claims was “leaving tens of thousands of people in limbo at an unacceptable cost of billions to the taxpayer”.

5. Qatar has sentenced eight Indian former naval officers to death after finding them guilty of spying on the Gulf state’s submarine programme for Israel. The Indian government “expressed deep shock” at the verdict sand said “all legal options are being explored”. Here’s what’s at stake in a potential diplomatic dispute between New Delhi and Doha.

News in-depth

Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of Foxconn
Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of Foxconn © FT Montage/Bloomberg/Dreamstime

When Terry Gou announced his intention to run for president of his native Taiwan, the billionaire founder of Foxconn argued that China could not touch him or his company. Now, Beijing has called his bluff, launching an investigation into the iPhone maker over tax and land use. Taiwanese officials say the probe smacks of a politically motivated crackdown, while analysts see a potential watershed moment in China’s relationship with international investors.

We’re also reading . . . 

  • Back in the fold: The return of pro-European Donald Tusk as Poland’s prime minister would be a boon for the EU, writes Le Monde editorial director Sylvie Kauffmann.

  • Appeasing Putin: Each western country had its own incentive to misread the Russian president — and they will do it again, writes Simon Kuper.

  • Driverless cars: Generative artificial intelligence should follow the signals from autonomous vehicles, which behave better on the roads than we do, writes Gillian Tett.

Chart of the day

The US economy expanded by an annualised rate of 4.9 per cent in the third quarter, a blistering pace that beat forecasts. The resilience of the world’s largest economy has stemmed from one primary force: consumer spending, which was by far the biggest contributor to the economy’s boom in the three months.

Take a break from the news

Here are our six films to watch this week, including Doctor Jekyll starring Eddie Izzard — a creaky, gothic horror flick with which the newly revived UK studio Hammer Films comes back from the dead.

Eddie Izzard and Scott Chambers in Doctor Jekyll
Eddie Izzard and Scott Chambers in ‘Doctor Jekyll’

Additional contributions from Benjamin Wilhelm

Recommended newsletters for you

Working It — Everything you need to get ahead at work, in your inbox every Wednesday. Sign up here

One Must-Read — The one piece of journalism you should read today. Sign up here

Leave a Comment