(Reuters) -Below are reactions to the death on Friday of Chinese former Premier Li Keqiang:
ADAM NI, INDEPENDENT CHINA POLITICAL ANALYST, AUTHOR
“Li was a premier who stood powerless as China took a sharp turn away from reform and opening.”
DALI YANG, POLITICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO:
“The scope for Li’s policymaking and implementation had became more subordinated under President Xi Jinping, who had unabashedly dominated in politics and policy making, relegating Li to playing second fiddle.
“Xi had significantly overshadowed Li, leaving him with less room for initiative than past premiers.”
CHEN DAOYIN, INDEPENDENT CHINESE POLITICAL ANALYST, CHILE:
“Li was someone with ideas but no solutions. He did not achieve much as premier. This is partly his own doing and cannot all be blamed on Xi.
“When he first came in power 10 years ago, he had many ideas, such as encouraging entrepreneurship, but no good plan on how to implement them. When these ideas failed to materialise, his power was gradually taken away from him, and he became the most powerless premier in four decades.”
WEN-TI SUNG, POLITICAL SCIENTIST, AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY:
“Li’s sudden death definitely came as a surprise, as he was merely 68. Top level Chinese leaders have a track record of longevity – both of Li’s last two living predecessors, Premier Zhu Rongji (95) and Premier Wen Jiabao (81), outlive him.
“Li will probably be remembered as an advocate for the freer market and for the have-nots. But most of all, he will be remembered for what could have been.”
NEIL THOMAS, FELLOW, ASIA SOCIETY POLICY INSTITUTE’S CENTER FOR CHINA ANALYSIS:
“Xi will likely respect party tradition and lead public mourning for Li, as he has no reason to anger Li’s colleagues and supporters in the party, whose waning political influence is further weakened by his death.
“Xi may allow some public mourning for Li but will likely have zero tolerance for attempts to use Li’s death to oppose his leadership.”
RICHARD MCGREGOR, SENIOR FELLOW, LOWY INSTITUTE, SYDNEY:
“The reformist era ended a long time ago. I don’t think there is any correlation to Hu Yaobang (a political reformer whose death sparked mass mourning and the Tiananmen Square protests) and no heavy symbolic significance attached to Li’s funeral.
“It’s a shock because he’s relatively young in a system which provides the best healthcare for its leaders.”
YUN SUN, DIRECTOR, STIMSON CENTER, WASHINGTON:
“Li has been seen as the representative of the reformists. But during his 10 years as the premier, China saw the regression of many policies.”
CHONG JA IAN, POLITICAL SCIENTIST, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE:
“I would not rule out the possibility that a mass mourning triggers some protest, given how there is a degree of unease in the PRC (People’s Republic of China) currently…
“The fact that there is so much speculation on Li’s cause of death shows a degree of uncertainty and distrust, that reflects unease over the opaqueness and arbitrariness of the top (Communist Party) leadership, as seen with recent sudden and unexplained removals of leaders.”
JOSEPH TORIGIAN, STANFORD HOOVER HISTORY LAB, X POST:
“The passing of a senior Chinese political figure can be a complicated and challenging moment for the leadership. Protests after the deaths of popular former deputies like Zhou Enlai and Hu Yaobang show why. The immediate task facing the Chinese leadership will be to come up with an obituary that pleases Li’s family (which is not always easy, especially if the family is unhappy about something), suits the regime’s political agenda, and does not inflame popular sentiment.”
KEVIN RUDD, AUSTRALIAN EX-PRIME MINISTER, X POST:
“Li was warmly disposed to Australia. He also worked closely with the World Bank more than a decade ago on the blueprint for China’s economy announced in 2013. We have lost Premier Li far too early in life.”
MALCOLM TURNBULL, AUSTRALIAN EX-PRIME MINISTER, X POST:
“I always found Premier Li to be a charming and constructive counterparty who was not tied to the official talking points and engaged candidly and thoughtfully on the big issues of the day.”
HIROKAZU MATSUNO, JAPAN’S CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY
“Former Premier Li Keqiang played an important role in Sino-Japanese relations, including his official visit to our country during the trilateral summit between Japan, China and South Korea in May 2018. We hereby offer our sincere condolences and prayers for former Premier Li Keqiang.”
SOUTH KOREAN GOVERNMENT STATEMENT:
“Our government highly values the contribution former Premier Li Keqiang has made on developing South Korea-China relations as a close friend of South Korea. We pray for the eternal repose of his soul and express deep sadness and condolences to the bereaved family.”
NICHOLAS BURNS, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA, X POST
“I extend our condolences to the family of former Premier Li Keqiang, the government of the People’s Republic of China, and the Chinese people, on his passing.”
EUROPEAN UNION CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN CHINA, STATEMENT:
“The European Chamber is deeply saddened by the passing of former Premier Li Keqiang, who was an important interlocutor for the foreign business community. He was a pragmatic, forward-thinking man who placed great importance on the reform and opening of China’s economy. On the occasions that the European Chamber had the privilege to meet with him, he always paid close attention to the concerns of European companies operating in China.”
AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN SHANGHAI, STATEMENT:
“He was well respected by the American business community for his unwavering support for foreign investment in China and for his commitment to the reform and opening policy. His legacy of shaping China’s development will not be forgotten.”
(Reporting by Reuters newsroom; Compiled by William Mallard)