Li Qiang Elected China’s Premier, Faces Steep Learning Curve in Reviving Economy
BEIJING – Li Qiang, the former Communist Party chief of Shanghai, was officially elected China's premier on Saturday, taking over the country's No.2 post and becoming the first premier in the history of the People's Republic to never have served previously in the central government.
The 63-year-old Li Qiang won the post by a vote of 2,936-3, with eight lawmakers abstaining. He was previously promoted to the Communist Party's highest decision-making body, the seven-strong Politburo Standing Committee, last October. He will succeed Li Keqiang, who is retiring as premier after serving two five-year terms.
As premier, Li Qiang will head the State Council, China's Cabinet, and his main task will be overseeing the economy. However, this position has been weakened over the past decade as Chinese President Xi Jinping has centralized power in his own hands.
The new premier will have to face a steep learning curve in his first months on the job according to analysts. He is taking office at a time when China’s economy is battered by three years of pandemic-related restrictions, and will be tasked with reviving it.
Li Qiang is a close ally of President Xi and rose up the party ranks in his native Zhejiang province. During the five-year time frame from 2002 to 2007, he worked in close collaboration with Mr. Xi while being stationed in Zhejiang.
The National People’s Congress, which is currently in its first session, also unanimously re-elected party general secretary Xi to a norm-breaking third five-year term as the country's president on Friday.
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