Li Keqiang on the way out? Rumors fly fast and thick

December 09, 2014 14:38
Premier Li Keqiang's economic policies, dubbed as Likonomics, appear to be losing their mainstream relevance. Photo: AFP

Premier Li Keqiang is likely to quit his post soon, am730 said on Tuesday, citing an exclusive report in the latest issue of Zheng Jing magazine.

Zheng Jing, which means "politics and economics", is a publication under the New York-based Mingjing News Group.

In the report, Chen Xiaoping, the media group's editor-in-chief, told Radio France Internationale in an interview that Li is suffering from diabetes, which has been worsening due to job-related stress.

There could be other reasons, Chen was quoted as saying, including his inability to control the economic slowdown, and President Xi Jinping’s management style, particularly his tendency to centralize power to himself, which makes it hard for Li to perform his duties as premier.

As to who will most probably succeed Li, Chen mentioned several possible candidates, including Chongqing party secretary Sun Zhengcai, Vice Premier Wang Yang and Shanghai party secretary Han Zheng.

Meanwhile, Ming Pao Daily reported that some foreign media are speculating that Li may be named chairman of the National People's Congress before he finishes his second term as premier.

But the newspaper doubts if Li will be asked to quit as premier as he has proven himself to be “fully cooperative” and supportive of the policies set by Xi.

Fueling the rumors is growing speculation that Li's economic policies are losing their mainstream relevance.

Dubbed by media as Likonomics, the policies seek to pursue structural reforms while avoiding further stimulus measures to bolster the economy.

But on the eve of the Central Economic Working Conference, which opened in Beijing on Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency published a report of more than 6,000 words that focus on the New Normal economic concept, a reference to Xi's speech earlier this year when he said the nation needed to adapt to a new normal of slowing economic growth.

One evidence that the once-popular Likonomics has been replaced by the New Normal ideology is that Xi now heads both the central deep reform group and the central financial work group, two lead committees in the Communist Party that set the country's economic policies.

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