Former Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang Passes Away Suddenly
On November 4, 2023, the world mourned the sudden passing of former Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. Just a year after leaving his post as a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and seven months after leaving his post as prime minister, Li Keqiang died of a heart attack. His funeral was held in Beijing this week, attended by top officials including Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and President of China.
However, the handling of Li Keqiang’s death by Chinese Communist Party authorities has raised concerns. In his hometown of Hefei, Anhui Province, authorities tried to prevent mourners from speaking to BBC reporters, indicating a sensitivity around the incident. The tight police guard around the hearse leaving Chang’an Avenue in Beijing also highlights the authorities’ cautious approach.
Li Keqiang’s death sparked spontaneous mourning across China. From Henan, where he worked, to his hometown in Anhui, people laid flowers in remembrance. This response was significantly different from the public reaction to the death of former Prime Minister Li Peng. However, the authorities’ sensitivity to the public’s appreciation and memory of Li Keqiang was evident in their attempts to control information.
Looking back at Li Keqiang’s tenure as prime minister, his achievements are undeniable. During his ten years in office, China’s GDP rose from 53 trillion yuan to 121 trillion yuan, with an average annual growth rate of 6.2%. The reform of medical insurance expanded coverage from 540 million to 1.36 billion people, and the “streamlining administration and delegating power” initiative reduced government administrative approval matters by one-third. However, some analysts pointed out that Li Keqiang’s reforms were incomplete, with rising debt levels and unresolved issues in local government finances.
Israel-Hamas Conflict Continues, Experts Question Israel’s Post-War Plans
The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian Hamas forces has entered its fourth week, with Israel launching a ground offensive. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to this as the “second phase” of the war and emphasized that it would be a tough battle. However, experts have raised concerns about Israel’s lack of post-war plans.
While the leader of Hamas expressed willingness to release hostages in exchange for the release of Hamas prisoners in Israeli prisons, Israel has rejected the idea of a ceasefire, stating that it is not the time for surrendering to terrorism. Despite its strong stance, Israel has not outlined a clear strategy for uprooting Hamas from the Gaza Strip, leading experts to question the feasibility of their ambitious goal.
The conflict coincides with China assuming the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council, sparking speculation about its role and stance. China has refrained from publicly condemning or supporting any party involved in the conflict so far.
Renewed Conflict in Northern Myanmar Raises Concerns
Fierce fighting has resumed in northern Myanmar, particularly in Shan and Kachin states, involving Chinese ethnic armed forces and government troops. Some towns have witnessed the surrender of government forces, and artillery shells have reportedly fallen into Yunnan, China. The Myanmar military junta confirmed that the government of Kokang in Shan State, which borders Yunnan, “no longer exists.” This area serves as a key trade channel between China and Myanmar.
The armed conflict is said to be aimed at combating Chinese telecom fraud groups in the Kokang area. The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) claimed responsibility for the offensive. As a result of the conflict, at least 6,000 people have been displaced, according to the United Nations humanitarian agency.
These recent developments in China, Israel, and Myanmar have captured the attention of BBC readers, with their significance and potential impact attracting widespread interest.