Asei Ito, Jaehwan Lim, and Hongyong Zhang
Abstract: The unexpected passing of Li Keqiang, the former Chinese Premier, has prompted widespread public mourning, reflecting a profound sense of loss for a time of economic potential and openness. In assessing Li’s representation, achievement, and limitation, this study explores his policy orientation concerning state–market relations in comparison to General Secretary Xi Jinping. Employing a semi-supervised machine learning method, our analysis reveals that Li favoured market-oriented policies, while Xi displayed a preference for state-centric approaches. Notably, the findings show an initial divergence between the two leaders, followed by a substantial narrowing of the gap during Xi’s second term. This study also finds that discursive differences between the two leaders were linked to a decline in firm-level investment, suggesting the gap in policy orientation may generate significant political uncertainty. As the first attempt to quantify Li Keqiang’s policy position and influence, this study contributes to the literature on the leadership dynamics in economic policy-making and its outcomes.
Keywords: Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, State–market relation, Policy orientation, Text analysis, Latent semantic scaling
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