China's former Premier Li Keqiang died of a heart attack on Friday, reports said.
He was 68. According to reports, he passed away in the early hours today in Shanghai.
Li served as premier during President Xi Jinping’s first two five-year terms. During his time as premier, he had cultivated an image as a more modern apparatvhik compared to his stiffer colleagues.
Li Keqiang, a career bureaucrat who spoke fluent English, was considered a contender to succeed then-Communist Party leader Hu Jintao in 2013 but was passed over in favor of Xi. He had voiced support for economic reforms during his time in office. However, his attempts at financial reforms were curtailed by Xi’s overwhelming authority.
Li was born July 1, 1955, in the eastern province of Anhui and by 1976 was ruling party secretary of a commune there.
Li become the party's top official in Henan, and in Liaoning province in the northeast, both of which saw economic growth before being promoted to become a deputy to then-premier Wen Jiabao.