Former Chinese Premier Li Keqiang passed away in Shanghai at the age of 69 due to a sudden heart attack. Li had served as premier for over a decade before stepping down in March of this year. As an economist, he had managed the world’s second-largest economy and was an advocate for reform and opening up.
However, the Western media has taken his passing as an opportunity to politicize it, framing his life and legacy in contrast to China’s current leader Xi Jinping. Li’s support for free enterprise and reform is juxtaposed with Xi’s highly centralized leadership and crackdown on private enterprise. This has led to headlines highlighting how Li had been “sidelined by Xi Jinping” and how his mourning was a way to express frustration with Xi’s rule.
It is important to note that Li was a staunchly loyal member of the Communist Party and one of its highest figures of authority. However, the media narrative now depicts his life as if he were a dissident, which is far from the truth. While there may be factional struggles within the Communist Party, the intention of such reporting is to use Li’s life and legacy as a political weapon against Xi Jinping to encourage dissent.
The Western media often glorifies figureheads, alive or dead, who are deemed to be in opposition to the Communist Party. By immortalizing them, their memories and legacies are used to shape public opinion against the ruling party. This is evident in the annual coverage of the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989, framing them as an act of “martyrdom” for democracy in China.
In the context of Li Keqiang’s passing, some online commentators hoped that it would trigger protests against the regime, similar to the death of pro-reform general secretary Hu Yaobang in 1989. However, this is a misrepresentation of the situation and an attempt to hijack Li’s legacy to frame him as an embodiment of opposition to Xi Jinping. The actual achievements of his tenure are overshadowed by a partisan message that portrays him as a victim of a “purge” against Xi’s rule.
This manipulation of memory and death is aimed at creating a lasting legacy that shapes the overall narrative and public perception of a regime. It is reminiscent of the way Dr. Li Wenliang’s death during the COVID-19 pandemic was used to demonize China and portray him as a heroic whistleblower. These narratives often overlook nuance and contradicting information to create a binary “good vs. evil” narrative.
The Western media has a predetermined ideological disposition towards China, favoring certain figures and condemning others. This bias influences how they understand and judge legacies. When it comes to China, every development is tailored to support their preconceived outcome. As a result, a loyal Chinese premier like Li Keqiang will now be remembered as an unlikely dissident.
In conclusion, the politicization of Li Keqiang’s passing by the Western media is a reflection of their predetermined ideological biases towards China. His life and legacy are being used as a political weapon against Xi Jinping, ignoring his loyalty to the Communist Party and his contributions as premier. This manipulation of memory and death serves to shape the overall narrative and public perception of the Chinese regime.