A recent video of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, appearing on the Internet and in some media outlets, giving a speech in Shenzhen. He makes it clear that the internal situation of the Chinese regime is becoming increasingly tense as the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party draws nearer.
Li Keqiang appeared in Shenzhen on Aug. 16 to give a symposium on the economic situation of the Asian country in front of the leaders of several provinces. He also paid tribute to Deng Xiaoping.
In his speech, shared several times on Wechat, he acknowledged the severity of China’s economic, energy and financial crisis. However, according to policy experts, one particular phrase reveals that Li Keqiang is playing his own game. “The Yangtze River will not flow backwards,” he said.
Several policy analysts speculate that Li Keqiang’s slogan of “Adhering to reform and opening up, without backing down” is contrary to Xi Jinping’s line.
Then, after the symposium, Li Keqiang inspected Yantian Port in Shenzhen and went to the Deng Xiaoping Bronze Statue Memorial Park, without wearing a mask. He spoke with residents saying, “Reform and opening up are closely related to people’s life and happiness,” and waved his hand behind him and said, “Look, the bronze statue (Deng Xiaoping) is here.”
Unexpectedly, the video of the speech was censored from the networks and the media, with one exception, the Xinhua newspaper. For months, it has been showing an opposing stance against Xi Jinping in several of its articles, and for that reason, it persisted in showing Li Keqiang’s speech.
Li Keqiang said, “No matter how the international level changes, no matter what kind of complicated situation there is, reform and opening up will definitely advance steadily.”
“China’s reform and opening up will continue to advance, the Yellow River and Yangtze River will not recede, and the water in Yantian Port will continue to flow,” he added.
Another official CCP media outlet, the CCTV News Agency showed him placing a wreath at the bronze statue of Deng Xiaoping.
Censored videos display the following message when clicked: “The video cannot be played due to a rules violation”.
These words mark a clear difference revealing Li Keqiang’s disagreement with Xi Jinping’s ideas.
Although some people think that his speech does not say much, that it is empty and that he made it in order to calm the differences in the CCP.
Others stress that there is a factional dispute within the CCP.
Allegedly, Li Keqiang and the State Council’s propaganda team are pushing friendly videos of him. Any change in the image of a person, who for 10 years was low profile and often ignored by party spokesmen, is evident. Images and videos of a smiling Li Keqiang can be widely seen on Chinese social networks.
The meeting in Shenzhen
At the controversial meeting, Li Keqiang admitted the country’s crisis in several aspects. He put the onus on six major provinces, which account for 45% of the country’s total economic output, to stabilize their incomes.
The senior official said that “economically large provinces should boldly take the lead and play a key supporting role in stabilizing the economy.” Referring to the six provinces whose contributions are most important (Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong, Zhejiang, Henan and Sichuan), which account for 40% of employment. And he emphasized that the four coastal provinces (Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shandong) which contribute more than 60% of their revenue to central Beijing, should be able to complete the task in these current turbulent circumstances.
For example, Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong, is China’s most important export and manufacturing center, with a provincial GDP of $1.9 trillion, and should remain stable.
“At present, we are at the most difficult point of economic stabilization,” Li told the meeting.
In his speech, Li Keqiang acknowledged that China’s economic conditions are not good and that the decisions so far were not the right ones.
Some interpret from Li Keqiang’s speech that the country is moving backward and not forward. In other words, he does not agree with the decisions of current leader Xi Jinping.
Can Li Keqiang be a strong opponent of Xi Jinping?
At first glance, economist Li Keqiang’s concepts of governing a country are different from those of the current CCP leader.
As China’s premier, Li Keqiang is the second most powerful man in the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
In July 1998, he became China’s youngest provincial governor when he took over as governor of the central province of Henan.
He was then transferred to the northeastern province of Liaoning in December 2004 as party secretary. His successes in Liaoning brought him to the party’s central leadership and the Politburo Standing Committee in October 2007. In March 2008, he was appointed vice premier of state.
According to reports, Li Keqiang had a close relationship with then President Hu Jintao in the Youth League faction, and that he was poised to succeed Hu Jintao.
In this context, he was nominated for the top post of president. But he did not make it and was appointed prime minister in 2013, after losing the position to Xi Jinping, a rising official from the “princelings” faction. That faction is a group of leaders belonging to families of top revolutionaries or senior CCP officials.
Currently, Li Keqiang claims to support a return to a market economy, while Xi Jinping is moving closer to socialism.
During his presidency, Xi Jinping has been criticized for strict regulations on the technology sector, and restrictions on various corporations with his Zero Covid campaign, which has caused the rise of the current economic crisis and has left a gap to be questioned in this regard.
Li Keqiang wants to break away from Xi Jinping’s stance and sees the 20th National Congress of the CCP as a second chance to seize power.