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Former Premier Li Keqiang’s Fall From Power

Former Premier Li Keqiang’s Fall From Power

Within the power hierarchy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), there has always been some who did not become the top party elites via nepotism. Instead, they ascended to the top of the CCP from low civilian positions in regional governments, including former Premier Li Keqiang, Wen Jiabao, and former Vice Premier Wang Yang.

However, such a group of “commoners” only had a fragile grip on power in the CCP and were all forced to retire after the 20th CCP Congress last year. Their retirement has been seen as leader Xi Jinping further consolidating his power within the party.

Yuan Hongbing, a former professor of law at Peking University who now lives in exile in Australia, analyzed the reasons behind Li’s fall from power of former and the CCP’s shadow “asset manager” Xiao Jianhua in a recent interview on Pinnacle View of The Epoch Times.

Exiled Chinese law professor and dissident writer Yuan Hongbing in an undated file photo. (Chen Ming/The Epoch Times)

Hu Jintao’s Faction—Pawns to the ‘Princelings’

The “princelings” within the CCP generally refer to the descendants of party elites. Mr. Yuan said that the princelings see the tyrannical rule of the CCP as their private domain and refuse to allow outsiders access to such political and economic power, meaning that “commoners” who ascend to the top of the party will never be allowed to take actual power.

He revealed that Mr. Li, who came from former Chinese leader Hu Jintao’s faction, had been considered the successor to Mr. Hu, but was eventually defeated by Mr. Xi due to the lack of support from the princelings.

Mr. Yuan also believes that the weakness and servility of those “commoners” caused them not to dare to seize power from the princelings.

“Those people relied on sucking up to the rich and powerful, and they relied on this to climb the CCP’s hierarchy. So they simply do not have a strong political will and dare not go against the princelings. Their eventual failure is inevitable,” Mr. Yuan said.

Mr. Li did not fight back against Mr. Xi in their power struggle. Instead, he admitted defeat when Mr. Xi removed him and his allies from power at the 20th CCP Congress.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping waves during a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party at Tiananmen Gate in Beijing on July 1, 2021. (Ng Han Guan/AP Photo)

Although Mr. Hu’s faction and the so-called “commoners” were subservient to the princelings, their policies toward the people were equally brutal. Mr. Yuan revealed in his book “Assassination of the Buddha” how Mr. Hu and Hu Chunhua killed the 10th Panchen Lama of Tibetan Buddhism to maintain the CCP’s brutal rule over Tibet.

Li Keqiang the Opportunist

Mr. Yuan revealed that he and Mr. Li were fellow law students at Peking University once and that after law school, Mr. Li joined the CCP’s Central Committee to start his political career. However, he lacked political experience and ambition.

Mr. Yuan said, “Li Keqiang was basically an opportunist who climbed the CCP’s hierarchy to gain power.”

He said former Chinese leader Mr. Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao had intended for Mr. Li to succeed Mr. Hu as the CCP’s General Secretary (party’s top leader), but they could not overcome resistance from the princelings. The princelings believed that power must be in the hands of the political dynasties and not such a “commoner”.

According to Mr. Yuan’s observations, Mr. Li’s inherent weakness made him lose his position as the future leader to the unexpected Mr. Xi and failed to resist.

Mr. Yuan further revealed the power struggle at that time, as he has connections with insiders.

“Li Keqiang pretty much did not put up any resistance in the process where Xi Jinping came to power. He did not think that it would hurt him much to lose the position of the CCP’s General Secretary. Instead, he was satisfied to take the position of premier and believed that he could retain his political power and influence this way.”

Epoch Times Photo China’s Premier Li Keqiang speaks during a news conference following the closing of the second session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People on March 20, 2018, in Beijing, China. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Mr. Yuan believes that Mr. Xi gave Mr. Li false promises before the 20th CCP Congress to consolidate power and get his unprecedented third term.

Mr. Xi essentially played Mr. Li’s faction, which eventually led to all members of the group, including Hu Jintao’s son Hu Haifeng, losing power. Mr. Xi’s goal was to rule for life; therefore, he wishes to remove anyone who might be standing in his way.

Financial Coup

Mr. Yuan also spoke about a Canadian-Chinese businessman Xiao Jianhua, who was abducted by the CCP from Hong Kong in January 2017.

Mr. Yuan said that Mr. Xiao was an extremely talented student who was admitted to Peking University in 1986 at the age of 15. Mr. Yuan was the grade director of Mr. Xiao’s 1986 class at the time.

Mr. Yuan’s impression of Mr. Xiao then was that Mr. Xiao did not believe civilians like himself had a path in business. So Mr. Xiao wanted to work hard and gain a position in government. However, Mr. Xiao changed his mind after the Tiananmen Square Massacre and decided to go into business since the CCP’s hardliners did not appear to be willing to give power to “commoners” and reformists.

Mr. Yuan said that Mr. Xiao managed the assets of the most prominent and powerful families within the CCP. As of June 2017, Mr. Xiao’s Tomorrow Holding owned and participated in 44 financial institutions, with assets of approximately $444 billion.

Epoch Times Photo People pass by the entrance to Four Seasons Hotel, where Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua was last seen on Jan. 27, in Hong Kong, China, on Feb. 1, 2017. (Bobby Yip/Reuters)

Mr. Xiao, who controlled the CCP’s financial assets, was finally taken down by Mr. Xi in January 2017 for challenging his Maoist policies and attempting to stage an economic coup.

“After Xi Jinping came to power, his policies were returning the country to Mao’s fundamentalist communism. Mr. Xiao staged a financial coup intending to overthrow Xi Jinping,” Mr. Yuan said.

In mid-June 2015, China’s stock markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen plummeted simultaneously, eventually causing the CCP to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out the market. The stock market crash was officially defined as a “financial crime,” and Mr. Xiao was believed to be behind the operation.

In 2017 Mr. Xiao was abducted from Hong Kong by Chinese agents who had no jurisdiction and was smuggled to mainland China. In August 2022, Mr. Xiao Jianhua, a dual-citizen of Canada and the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda who held the right of abode in Hong Kong, was sentenced to 13 years in prison by the CCP. Canadian diplomats were denied access to his trial.

In addition, as a defendant, Tomorrow Holdings was fined 55.03 billion yuan ($8.08 billion), and in 2020, China’s financial regulator took direct control of six financial institutions under Tomorrow Holdings.

To read part 1, click here, while to read part 2, click here.  

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