Li Qiang, one of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s most trusted allies, has been confirmed as premier, a role charged with managing the world’s second-largest economy.
Li, the former Shanghai party chief was named the successor of outgoing premier Li Keqiang at a meeting of the country’s parliament on Saturday.
The 63-year-old received nearly all votes from the more than 2,900 delegates at the National People’s Congress a day after Xi was unanimously selected by deputies for a norm-breaking third term as president.
Xi’s motion nominating Li Qiang as premier was read out to the chamber on Saturday morning.
Li, 63, is a close ally of Xi, serving as his chief of staff between 2004 and 2007, when Xi was provincial party secretary of eastern China’s Zhejiang province.
Widely perceived to be pragmatic and business-friendly, the incoming Li faces the daunting task of shoring up China’s uneven economic recovery after three years of Covid-19 curbs, weak confidence among consumers and the private sector, and global headwinds.
He will take office amid rising tensions with the West, including US moves to block China’s access to key technologies and as many global companies diversify supply chains to hedge their China exposure, given political risks and the disruptions of the Covid era.
China’s economy grew just 3 percent last year, and on the opening day of parliament Beijing set a modest 2023 growth target of around 5 percent, its lowest goal in nearly three decades.
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