Li Qiang: President Xi’s close confidante Li Qiang named as China’s new premier to revive struggling economy

Beijing: China’s parliament on Saturday confirmed President Xi Jinping’s trusted aide li qiang as the new premier looks to revive the world’s second-largest economy battered by three years of ‘zero-Covid’ restrictions and deteriorating relations with the West.
Li Qiang, 63, will replace Li Keqiang, 67, who held the position for the past 10 years.
The annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), a largely formal body that regularly passes resolutions of China’s ruling Communist Party (CPC), proposed Li Qiang’s candidacy after his name was proposed by Xi himself. Was.
However, his “election” was not unanimous, unlike Xi.
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper reported that of the 2,947 NPC members who attended Saturday’s meeting, 2,936 supported him, with three voting against and eight abstaining.
After the vote, Xi signed a presidential decree appointing Li Qiang as premier, after which he took an oath of allegiance to the constitution.
Xi later shook hands with Li Qiang in a brief video clip shown on national television.
Li Keqiang then also shook hands with Li Qiang in what appears to be a smooth transfer of power, given that the outgoing premier maintained a low profile in recent years, apparently due to the dramatic rise of Xi’s stature in the last They were unhappy with the erosion of their power after the rise. Ten years on, equating himself with Party founder Mao Zedong.
Xi later shook hands with Li Keqiang and exchanged greetings and apparently said goodbye as he headed toward his retirement from politics.
Li Keqiang, a contender with Xi in the 2012 presidential race, chose to retire last year, apparently following a massive crackdown on corruption and using the military to consolidate his power. Was unhappy with the big pressure.
He was considered a less powerful premier than his predecessors.
Li Qiang, who is said to be a pro-business politician in Xi’s inner circle, will be the number two rank official of the CPC and government after Xi, who was appointed as president and army chief of staff for an unprecedented third of five on Friday. Was. -year duration.
Xi, 69, is the only leader since party founder Mao Zedong to have more than two five-year terms and is expected to remain in power for life.
Bilateral relations between China and some major Western countries, especially with the US, are at their lowest level in decades, fueling tensions over technology and investment.
Li Qiang worked with Xi in his early years during his provincial tenure before being transferred to the central government as a vice president. He led the party in Shanghai, China’s largest modern business center.
However, its handling of last year’s COVID outbreak, putting the city of more than 26 million under lockdown for nearly two months, drew sharp criticism at home and abroad as it caused huge hardships to the population.
Li Qiang, who remains a close ally of Xi, is expected to boost the private sector as well as foreign investment in the world’s second-largest economy, dispelling the perception that the government has taken a stand against top business houses such as Alibaba. action taken. In the past few years, there has been a return to state-owned enterprises.
Li Keqiang proposed a five percent growth rate target for the economy in his annual work report on March 5, the lowest in decades.
With the Chinese economy recording three percent GDP last year, the lowest in decades, Li Qiang’s focus is on taking responsibility for taking the economy back to previous levels of growth, mitigating immediate risks, harnessing long-term growth potential and scaling Will happen. China into a high-income economy during his tenure.
Li Qiang is scheduled to hold his first annual press conference on March 13, the last day of the NPC session, which will be watched at home and abroad, during which he will be expected to outline his plan to revive the Chinese economy and deal with other challenges. was expected. A demographic crisis, technological constraints, and the US crackdown on China’s high tech.
“Li Qiang’s biggest challenge this year will be to revive the Chinese economy,” said Ava Shen, China and Northeast Asia associate at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultant.
“It is still uncertain if consumer demand can bounce back this year to meaningfully drive growth, and financial risks to the property sector and local government debt still remain.
“They need to devise policies to further boost demand while keeping financial risks at bay,” Shane told the Post.
But analysts are debating how much policy the 63-year-old former Shanghai Communist Party boss will enjoy during his five-year term, given the position’s authority has waned over the past decade as Xi consolidated power. Has gone.
Given the tight corner China faces and Li Qiang his close confidante, some observers say Xi may leave more room for the new premier during his five-year term to revive the economy.
In addition to Li Qiang, the NPC also supported zhang yuxia and He Weidong as vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) – the high command of the Chinese military headed by Xi – and Li Shangfu, Liu Zhenli, Miao Hua and Zhang Shengmin as CMC members.
The parliament also supports a number of other appointments, including a Supreme Court president nominated by the CPC.
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