Absent Patriarchs: Growing Divide in CCP Hierarchy Evident at Li Keqiang’s Funeral

Prominent Chinese communist patriarchies were absent from the recent official funeral of former Premier Li Keqiang. A China watcher has said it is an indication of a growing split in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hierarchy over the scrutiny of Mr. Li’s death.The 68-year-old’s body was cremated at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing on Nov. 2.State media CCTV broadcasted a video showing CCP leader Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, shaking hands with Mr. Li’s wife, Cheng Hong, at the ceremony that day. Six other Mr. Xi’s Politburo of Central Committee members attended the funeral.But top political patriarchies, like Hu Jintao, Zhu Rongji, Li Ruihuan, and Wen Jiabao, did not appear.Former CCP leader, Mr. Hu, had a deep relationship with Mr. Li. They were in the same “Youth League” faction or Tuanpai, both having served as the chief of the Central Secretariat of the Communist Youth League.Related Stories The then-Chinese premier Li Keqiang, former CCP leader Hu Jintao, and current CCP leader Xi Jinping attend the closing ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the Great Hall of the People on Oct. 22, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)Mr. Li’s sudden death came after a slew of high-ranking seniors fell from grace and under investigation by CCP’s anti-graft supervisor or discipline body, adding to rumors and speculations that link his passing to a political assassination despite the official conclusion of “a heart attack.”The absence of political seniors at national-level official’s funeral is not a common practice of the CCP, said Chen Pokong, a U.S.-based current affairs commentator.Mr Chen cited past similar occasions such as, in late 2022, Mr. Hu went to the military general hospital to bid farewell to the diseased CCP former head Jiang Zemin, who had earlier attended former premier Li Peng’s funeral at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing in July 2019.Mr. Chen said that Mr. Hu would have attended his intimate subordinate’s funeral if Mr. Li had indeed died of what the official obituary claimed was a heart attack.On the contrary, “The old political men may not accept the [death] conclusion made by Xi’s Central Committee, so they were unwilling to show up [at Mr. Li’s funreal],” he said, pointing to Mr. Hu’s nonattendance represents a general skepticism among CCP’s political predecessors over the cause of Mr. Li’s death.Such a nonattendance, Mr. Chen said, could be seen as a boycott of the CCP authorities rushing to cremate the corpse to eliminate any traces, for example, poisoning, that may have been left in Mr. Li’s body.“Since the political elderlies have now lost their power and are unable to stop the authorities from cremating the dead body, they can only pay tribute in their way by not attending any official memorial ceremony,” Mr. Chen said. A man places flowers in front of the former house of former Chinese premier Li Keqiang in Dingyuan County, Chuzhou City, in China's eastern Anhui Province on Oct. 27, 2023. (Rebecca Bailey/AFP via Getty Images)Xinhua News Agency said Mr. Hu sent a wreath to express his condolences to Mr. Li's family. CCTV’s video also showed that other political elders sent wreaths.But Mr. Chen believes such news coverage can be designed upon request; “It cannot even prove that these political elders sent wreaths.”The communist regime could have orchestrated the funeral ceremony and the five-minute-long footage to “pretend everything is normal and cover up what the CCP is afraid to make public,” Mr. Chen said. Li Keqiang’s Daughter Mr. Li’s daughter has sustained a low profile and never appeared publicly. CCTV cameras shot a heart-shaped wreath of white flowers in the center of the chapel that read, “You will always be with us, dedicated by Cheng Hong and daughter,” but did not show her name.Some photos on social media showed a woman standing behind Ms. Cheng’s right side, suspected to be Mr. Li’s daughter. However, the CCTV’s camera angle was set at the back of Ms. Cheng, which facilitated not showing the faces of Mr. Li’s daughter and other family members.Mr. Chen noted this is abnormal and suspicious in contrast to the funerals of Jiang Zemin and Li Peng, where CCTV cameras were positioned before their family members, capturing Mr. Xi and other senior officials shaking hands with family members individually.Mr. Li’s daughter reportedly studied at Peking University and Harvard University and now works at Peking University.Back in 2013, Hong Kong media reported that around the 18th National Congress, a cohort of princelings of CCP leaders who studied or settled in the United States returned to China, including Mr. Xi’s daughter Xi Mingze, Mr. Li’s daughter, Li Haijin, the son of former vice president Li Yuanchao, and daughters of two former vice premier, Wang Yang and Ma Kai.Mr. Xi has cracked down on tech giants and private industries and confiscated large amounts of capital, much of it assoc

Absent Patriarchs: Growing Divide in CCP Hierarchy Evident at Li Keqiang’s Funeral

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Prominent Chinese communist patriarchies were absent from the recent official funeral of former Premier Li Keqiang. A China watcher has said it is an indication of a growing split in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hierarchy over the scrutiny of Mr. Li’s death.

The 68-year-old’s body was cremated at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing on Nov. 2.

State media CCTV broadcasted a video showing CCP leader Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, shaking hands with Mr. Li’s wife, Cheng Hong, at the ceremony that day. Six other Mr. Xi’s Politburo of Central Committee members attended the funeral.

But top political patriarchies, like Hu Jintao, Zhu Rongji, Li Ruihuan, and Wen Jiabao, did not appear.

Former CCP leader, Mr. Hu, had a deep relationship with Mr. Li. They were in the same “Youth League” faction or Tuanpai, both having served as the chief of the Central Secretariat of the Communist Youth League.

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 The then-Chinese premier Li Keqiang, former CCP leader Hu Jintao, and current CCP leader Xi Jinping attend the closing ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the Great Hall of the People on Oct. 22, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
The then-Chinese premier Li Keqiang, former CCP leader Hu Jintao, and current CCP leader Xi Jinping attend the closing ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the Great Hall of the People on Oct. 22, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

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Mr. Li’s sudden death came after a slew of high-ranking seniors fell from grace and under investigation by CCP’s anti-graft supervisor or discipline body, adding to rumors and speculations that link his passing to a political assassination despite the official conclusion of “a heart attack.”

The absence of political seniors at national-level official’s funeral is not a common practice of the CCP, said Chen Pokong, a U.S.-based current affairs commentator.

Mr Chen cited past similar occasions such as, in late 2022, Mr. Hu went to the military general hospital to bid farewell to the diseased CCP former head Jiang Zemin, who had earlier attended former premier Li Peng’s funeral at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing in July 2019.

Mr. Chen said that Mr. Hu would have attended his intimate subordinate’s funeral if Mr. Li had indeed died of what the official obituary claimed was a heart attack.

On the contrary, “The old political men may not accept the [death] conclusion made by Xi’s Central Committee, so they were unwilling to show up [at Mr. Li’s funreal],” he said, pointing to Mr. Hu’s nonattendance represents a general skepticism among CCP’s political predecessors over the cause of Mr. Li’s death.

Such a nonattendance, Mr. Chen said, could be seen as a boycott of the CCP authorities rushing to cremate the corpse to eliminate any traces, for example, poisoning, that may have been left in Mr. Li’s body.

“Since the political elderlies have now lost their power and are unable to stop the authorities from cremating the dead body, they can only pay tribute in their way by not attending any official memorial ceremony,” Mr. Chen said.

.

 A man places flowers in front of the former house of former Chinese premier Li Keqiang in Dingyuan County, Chuzhou City, in China's eastern Anhui Province on Oct. 27, 2023. (Rebecca Bailey/AFP via Getty Images)
A man places flowers in front of the former house of former Chinese premier Li Keqiang in Dingyuan County, Chuzhou City, in China's eastern Anhui Province on Oct. 27, 2023. (Rebecca Bailey/AFP via Getty Images)

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Xinhua News Agency said Mr. Hu sent a wreath to express his condolences to Mr. Li's family. CCTV’s video also showed that other political elders sent wreaths.

But Mr. Chen believes such news coverage can be designed upon request; “It cannot even prove that these political elders sent wreaths.”

The communist regime could have orchestrated the funeral ceremony and the five-minute-long footage to “pretend everything is normal and cover up what the CCP is afraid to make public,” Mr. Chen said.

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Li Keqiang’s Daughter

Mr. Li’s daughter has sustained a low profile and never appeared publicly. CCTV cameras shot a heart-shaped wreath of white flowers in the center of the chapel that read, “You will always be with us, dedicated by Cheng Hong and daughter,” but did not show her name.

Some photos on social media showed a woman standing behind Ms. Cheng’s right side, suspected to be Mr. Li’s daughter. However, the CCTV’s camera angle was set at the back of Ms. Cheng, which facilitated not showing the faces of Mr. Li’s daughter and other family members.

Mr. Chen noted this is abnormal and suspicious in contrast to the funerals of Jiang Zemin and Li Peng, where CCTV cameras were positioned before their family members, capturing Mr. Xi and other senior officials shaking hands with family members individually.

Mr. Li’s daughter reportedly studied at Peking University and Harvard University and now works at Peking University.

Back in 2013, Hong Kong media reported that around the 18th National Congress, a cohort of princelings of CCP leaders who studied or settled in the United States returned to China, including Mr. Xi’s daughter Xi Mingze, Mr. Li’s daughter, Li Haijin, the son of former vice president Li Yuanchao, and daughters of two former vice premier, Wang Yang and Ma Kai.

Mr. Xi has cracked down on tech giants and private industries and confiscated large amounts of capital, much of it associated with CCP leaders' families.

With more privilege to access the regime’s political, military, technology, and finance spheres, princelings represent the interests of middle- and upper-class and emerging elites and entrepreneurs within the CCP regime.