Insight: China Premier-in-waiting Schooled in Era of Dissent

Reuters profiles Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who is expected to take over as Premier in the leadership transition next year. Li entered Peking University in 1977 as part of the first class to take entrance exams after the Cultural Revolution, and, according to his classmates, held liberal views in college:

More than any other Chinese party leader until now, Li was immersed in the intellectual and political ferment of the following decade of reform under Deng Xiaoping, which ended in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests that were crushed by troops.

As a law student at Peking University, Li befriended ardent pro-democracy advocates, some of whom later became outright challengers to party control. His friends included activists who went into exile after the June 1989 crackdown.

Now Li, 56, is preparing to take the reins of government, and Yang and other sometime friends wonder how those heady times will shape his role running a one-party state that has increasingly bristled at calls for political relaxation.

“When we were working on translating the book and exchanging ideas, I thought his views were very liberal,” Yang recalled of Li, who as an English speaker is a rarity among senior Chinese leaders.

Read more about Li Keqiang via CDT.

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