Li Qiang, considered one of Xi Jinping’s closest confidants, was named China’s new premier on Saturday, March 11, the day after the Chinese president renewed his third term.
Xi Jinping, 69, won a new five-year term as China’s president on Friday after a unanimous vote in parliament, making him China’s most powerful leader in generations. The outcome of the ballot was in doubt as the parliament was, in practice, subservient to the ruling Communist Party (CCP).
On Saturday, in another vote by delegates gathered at the Palace of the People in Beijing, Li Qiang, the sole candidate for prime minister, received 2,936 votes in favor, 3 against, and 8 abstentions. The 63-year-old, a former CCP official in Shanghai whose image was somewhat tarnished in the spring during his city’s troubled prison, has been in office since 2013, succeeding Li Keqiang.
The Chinese Premier presides over the State Council. Its function is traditionally concerned with the day-to-day management of the country and the conduct of macroeconomic policy. Li Qiang, who was relegated to second place in the CCP in October 2022, has no experience at the central government level, unlike almost all former premiers.
Collusion with Xi
However, he served a long time in local government and held important leadership positions in the wealthy coastal provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu. Li Qiang was Xi Jinping’s chief of staff between 2004 and 2007 when he was head of the CCP. His rapid promotions since then reflect the high confidence the Chinese number one has in him.
Xi Jinping and Li Qiang appeared friendly, smiling and exchanging pleasantries during the vote at the Palace of the People in Beijing on Saturday. Li Qiang took office at a time when the world’s second-largest economy faces a sharp recession, weakened by nearly three years of an inflexible “zero Covid” policy. For 2023, the government has set a GDP growth target“About 5%”One of the lowest in decades.
The outgoing prime minister, Li Keqiang, an economist by training, has seen his reform plans hampered by the growing power of Xi Jinping. On Saturday, representatives appointed Zhang Yuxia and He Weidong as vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission (of which Xi Jinping is chairman), while Zhang Jun assumed the post of president of the Supreme Court. Liu Jingguo became head of the National Supervisory Commission, the anti-corruption body.
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