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Li Qiang: China names a supporter of Xi Jinping as premier

The person President Xi Jinping proposed as China’s next premier has been formally chosen by parliament.

Former Shanghai Communist Party chief Li Qiang will now serve as the country’s leader in place of Li Keqiang, who is retiring.

At the National People’s Congress, the 63-year-old earned nearly all of the votes from the 2,900 delegates present.

He is regarded as a pragmatist and will be tasked with recovering China’s faltering economy. He is a close ally of Mr. Xi. On Sunday, new cabinet appointments are anticipated to be made.

No reporters were allowed in the room while the rubber-stamp parliament of China cast votes. Mr. Xi’s vote was met with cheers.

Only three delegates opposed Mr. Li’s appointment, and eight abstained, giving him a total of 2,936 votes. He is now the second-highest ranked official in China’s political system.

He then took an oath, pledging to be loyal to China’s constitution and to “work diligently to construct a prosperous, strong, democratic, civilised, harmonious and glorious modern socialist country”.

When President Xi was the party chairman of Zhejiang province in the early 2000s, Mr. Li served as his chief of staff. Mr. Li was appointed Shanghai’s party secretary in 2017.

He oversaw Shanghai’s rigorous lockdown during the pandemic, which made it difficult for some inhabitants to get food and medical attention.

His selection follows Mr. Xi’s historic election to a third term as president on Friday.

As China reopens after the president’s brutal zero-Covid policy, which stoked anti-government riots, the presidency has become more secure. The nation’s declining birthrate is another issue that endangers its ability to thrive economically.

This week’s “Two Sessions” of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC) are carefully followed because they offer a preview of the direction China may take in the years to come.

Chinese presidents had been barred from serving more than two terms since Mao Zedong. In 2018, Mr. Xi abolished this restriction, making him a figure with a reach unseen since Chairman Mao.

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