Li Qiang: China elects Xi Jinping ally as premier

(BBC) The man nominated as China’s next premier by President Xi Jinping has been formally elected by parliament.

Li Qiang, the former Communist Party leader of the country’s biggest city of Shanghai, will now lead the government, replacing retiring Li Keqiang.

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

A close ally of Mr Xi, he is seen as a pragmatist and will be tasked with reviving China’s struggling economy.

New ministerial appointments are expected to be announced on Sunday.

No reporters were allowed in the room while ballots were cast during a meeting of China’s rubber-stamp parliament. There was applause as Mr Xi cast his vote.

Mr Li – who is now the second-highest ranking official in China’s political system – received a total of 2,936 votes, with just 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 party chief of Zhejiang province. Mr Li was made party secretary of Shanghai in 2017.

During the pandemic, he oversaw Shanghai’s strict lockdown, which led to some residents struggling to access food and medical care.

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