Li Qiang Appointed China’s New Premier: What to Expect

BEIJING — Li Qiang, the former Communist Party chief of Shanghai, was appointed China's new premier on Saturday, taking on the role of reviving the world's second-largest economy after three years of COVID-19 curbs. He was elected by a vote of 2,936-3, with eight abstentions, at the National People’s Congress.[0]

Li, 63, is a close ally of President Xi Jinping, who identified him as the man to take on these challenges during a leadership reshuffle in October.[1] He is the first premier since the founding of the People's Republic not to have served previously in the central government, meaning he may face a steep learning curve in the initial months on the job, analysts said.[2] He replaces Li Keqiang, who had been Xi's second in command since 2013.[3]

Widely perceived to be pragmatic and business-friendly, Li faces the daunting task of shoring up China's uneven economic recovery, weak confidence among consumers and the private sector, as well as global headwinds.[1] He will make his closely watched debut on the international stage on Monday during the premier's traditional question-and-answer session with the media after the parliamentary session ends.[1]

Those who have crossed paths with Li report that he is pragmatic, a competent bureaucrat, and encouraging of the private sector.[4] After Xi became president in 2013, Li became the governor of his native Zhejiang and then the Communist Party boss of Jiangsu province and Shanghai party secretary in 2017.[5]

At the end of last week, soon-to-depart premier Li Keqiang declared a target of “around 5 percent” growth for 2023, one of the lowest of recent years, as the Chinese economy faces strong resistance.[6] At an annual political event on Friday, Mr Xi's appointment was confirmed, granting him an unprecedented third term as president and further solidifying his unchallenged authority. This puts him on a path which could possibly lead to a lifetime in power.[6]

Li Qiang is the first premier since the Mao era not to have previously worked at the State Council, China's cabinet, as vice premier, analysts say. Observers of leadership deem his appointment to be a significant advancement, as Mr Xi is appointing a group of loyalists to high positions during the largest governmental reordering of the past few decades – a move that will further amplify his authority.[1]

0. “Only One Chinese Official Got a ‘No' Vote at Xi's Coronation” Bloomberg, 10 Mar. 2023,

1. “Li Qiang becomes China's premier, tasked with reviving economy” CNBC, 11 Mar. 2023,

2. “Li Qiang named China's new premier, tasked with managing world's second-largest economy” CNA, 11 Mar. 2023,

3. “China appoints Li Qiang, a trusted ally of Xi Jinping, as premier”, 11 Mar. 2023,

4. “Li Qiang: Xi Jinping’s right hand man behind sweeping Covid lockdown elected China’s new premier” AOL, 11 Mar. 2023,

5. “Li Qiang appointed as Chinese premier” Bangkok Post, 11 Mar. 2023,

6. “China ruling party's No. 2 leader Li Qiang elected premier” Kyodo News Plus, 11 Mar. 2023,

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