Li Qiang: China elects a close ally of Xi Jinping as premier

President Xi Jinping’s nominee for China’s next premier has been formally elected by parliament.

Former Communist Party leader of the country’s largest city, Shanghai, Li Qiang, will now lead the government, succeeding retiring Li Keqiang.

The 63-year-old received nearly every vote from the National People’s Congress’s 2,900 delegates.

He is a close ally of Mr Xi and is regarded as a pragmatist who will be tasked with reviving China’s faltering economy.

On Sunday, new ministerial appointments are expected to be announced.

During a meeting of China’s rubber-stamp parliament, no reporters were allowed in the room while ballots were cast. Mr. Xi’s vote was met with applause.

Mr Li, who is now China’s second-highest ranking official, received a total of 2,936 votes, with only three delegates voting against his appointment and eight abstaining.

He then took an oath, swearing to be loyal to China’s constitution and to “work hard to build a prosperous, strong, democratic, civilised, harmonious and great modern socialist country”.

Mr Li was President Xi’s chief of staff in the early 2000s, when Mr Xi was Zhejiang province party chief. In 2017, Mr. Li was appointed Shanghai Party Secretary.

During the pandemic, he oversaw Shanghai’s strict lockdown, which left some residents without food or medical care.

His appointment follows Mr. Xi’s historic third term as President on Friday.

As China reopens from his bruising zero-Covid policy, which has fueled anti-government protests, the president has solidified his rule. The country is also dealing with a declining birth rate, which is threatening its economic growth engine.

The so-called Two Sessions of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) this week will be closely watched because it will provide insight into China’s future direction.

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