The mortal remains of China’s former premier Li Keqiang, who passed away on October 27 in Shanghai, were cremated at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing on Thursday.
Li, who was once known as the second most powerful man in the ruling Chinese Communist Party after President Xi Jinping, died of a sudden heart attackin Shanghai after all-out rescue efforts failed, reports Xinhua news agency.
He was 68 years old.
On Thursday morning, the cemetery’s auditorium was immersed in solemnity, with a mournful dirge playing in the background.
At the main hall hung a black banner with white characters that read “Deeply mourn for Comrade Li Keqiang”.
Under the banner was a portrait of him.
Li’s body, covered with the flag of the CPC, lay amidst flowers and evergreen cypresses.
At around 9 a.m., President Xi and First Lady Peng Liyuan, along with other top officials walked up to Li’s remains, stood in silence to pay their tributes, and made three bows.
Li was a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the 17th, 18th and 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) central committees and former premier of the State Council.
He was known as one of the smartest political figures of his generation, being accepted into the prestigious Peking University Law School soon after the universities were reopened following the Cultural Revolution, the BBC reported.
He served as the premier for a decade from 2013 to March this year.
During his time in the role, he navigated the Asian giant through a challenging period of rising technology and trade disputes with the US, mounting government debt and unemployment, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his final year in power, Li had been a strong voice warning of challenges to China’s economy amid widespread Covid-19 lockdowns. He backed efforts to boost employment and maintain economic stability.
When he stepped down, Li was 67 — one year short of the unofficial retirement age for senior Chinese Communist Party leaders.
He was succeeded as premier by former Shanghai party chief and Xi loyalist Li Qiang.
To mourn his death, national flags flew half-mast on Thursday at Tian’anmen Square, Xinhuamen, the Great Hall of the People, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, seats of CPC committees and governments of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, Hong Kong, Macao, border ports, seaports and airports of entry, and Chinese embassies and consulates.