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Analysis: In His Parting Words, Li Keqiang Warns That ‘Heaven Is Watching’

Katsuji Nakazawa
Nikkei Asia, Mar. 9, 2023

“Tian (Heaven)” is a key concept in Eastern philosophy. It exists above mere mortals, and is a place where bad deeds are frowned upon.”
Shortly before China’s rubber-stamp parliament kicked off its annual session on Sunday, multiple videos of one event had gone viral. Taken with smartphones, these showed outgoing Chinese Premier Li Keqiang bidding farewell to 800 or so senior government officials. They included foremost those in the General Office of the State Council, which Li led for a decade.

State-run China Central Television has so far not aired — or more accurately is unable to air — the controversial segment in which Li makes remarks that some interpret as digs at Chinese President Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Communist Party.

Although some videos have been taken down, it is clear that Li said these words: “Heaven is looking at what humans are doing. The firmament has eyes.”

The forceful words portray a conviction. Technically, his remarks were directed at the senior officials in the State Council who have supported him over the years. Even if the spotlight is not on you, heaven is watching your wonderful work. Do continue this under the new premier, his message was.

But many of his loyalists were probably startled by the words he chose. To start to answer that, it is necessary to understand the “north-south war” that has played out over the last decade in Beijing’s Zhongnanhai quarter, where China’s top officials have their offices. … [To read the full article, click here]

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