Li Keqiang: A man who puts people first
File photo taken on April 27, 2012 shows Li Keqiang (L) shakes hands with Russian president-elect Vladimir Putin during their talks in Moscow, Russia. [Photo/Xinhua]
Born in 1955 in east China's Anhui Province, Li spent his formative years studying sinology, or Chinese language and culture, from Li Cheng, a master of Chinese culture with the Anhui Provincial Research Institute of Cultural History.
This rare experience, combined with his later education at Peking University, turned him into a learned, eloquent person with a quick wit.
"I came here not only for knowledge, but also to cultivate my temperament and foster a learning style," Li once wrote in an essay to explain his love of Peking University.
In August 2011, he gave a speech in both Chinese and English at the University of Hong Kong, impressing participants with his scholarly temperament, discretion and friendliness.
The erudite leader has also shown enthusiasm and open-mindedness in foreign affairs. Early last year, he visited Spain, Germany and Britain, attending 46 activities in nine days.
He contributed signed articles to influential media in each host country to explain China's development and conducted in-depth exchanges with foreign statesmen to facilitate Sino-European cooperation.
In October 2011, Li led a delegation to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
It was the first time a Chinese leader had visited the two countries back-to-back, as well as a significant diplomatic maneuver taken by China to facilitate peace in northeast Asia.
During his April trip to Europe, which included stops in Russia, Hungary, Belgium and the EU headquarters in Brussels, Li gave speeches, attended economic activities and conducted exchanges with foreign statesmen.
At the first EU-China Urbanization Partnership High-Level Conference, Li and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso signed a joint declaration to cement cooperation on sustainable urban development.
During his meeting with then Russian President-elect and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Li proposed a mutually beneficial solution emphasizing upstream and downstream integration, which injected new momentum into China-Russia oil and gas cooperation.
All these activities offer a glimpse into his foresight and capability in coping with foreign affairs.
Li Keqiang reads English works in his spare time and monitors the latest economic and technical developments around the world.
A few years ago, he instructed think tanks of the State Council to study the concepts of the "middle-income trap" and "inclusive growth" as proposed by the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank.
"The Third Industrial Revolution" authored by Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, also caught Li's attention. He has asked the National Development and Reform Commission and the Development Research Center of the State Council to pay close attention to this research and made his latest instruction early November this year.
After a leading overseas science magazine published research predicting that combustible ice in the sea could become a revolutionary substitute energy source, Li instructed the Ministry of Land and Resources to follow relevant studies.
Li loves books and has a good memory. Through divergent thinking, he can link the research of many frontier issues with classical Chinese works, according to sources close to him.
He also prefers to make impromptu speeches, talk face-to-face, ask in-depth questions, find the nature of problems and develop solutions on the spot if possible.
Reading has not only broadened Li's horizons but has also cultivated his character. He always lives an honorable life and never allows his family or staff to seek personal gain using his name, said one of his colleagues.
Cheng Hong, Li's wife, is an English professor at the foreign language department of Capital University of Economics and Business. The couple have one daughter.