People’s Congress: Li Qiang new Premier of China

Status: 03/11/2023 05:10 a.m

Li Qiang has been elected the country’s new prime minister by the Chinese People’s Congress. He is considered a close confidant of head of state and party leader Xi Jinping.

The Chinese People’s Congress has elected Li Qiang as China’s new prime minister. As expected, the almost 3,000 hand-picked delegates voted overwhelmingly for the 63-year-old at their current annual meeting in the Great Hall of the People.

Li Qiang succeeds Li Keqiang (67), who is retiring after ten years. Unlike his predecessor, Li Qiang, who was most recently party leader in Shanghai, belongs to President Xi Jinping’s camp and is considered a close confidante of the state and party leader.

The office is particularly important for the economy. Because while the president in China is responsible for the big picture, concrete economic planning is traditionally more the responsibility of the prime minister. But this division has suffered greatly under Xi Jinping. He has left Li Keqiang much less leeway and – as in other areas – has concentrated power in his own hands.

Li Qiang enforced restrictive lockdown in Shanghai

Li Qiang can look back on a long career, which he spent mainly on the prosperous east coast of China. As party secretary in Shanghai, he championed the interests of business and at the same time promoted foreign investment. During his tenure, Tesla built a large factory in the city. “He doesn’t talk so much about ideology, but a little more about how to do things,” said Nis Grünberg from the China Institute Merics in Berlin.

Under the supervision of Li Qiang, Shanghai initially dealt with the virus less restrictively than many other regions of China during the corona pandemic. However, because the metropolis could not get a handle on an outbreak in spring 2022, the city was finally put into a strict lockdown for two months. This apparently did not harm Li Qiang politically.

Xi surrounds himself with close confidants

On Friday, Xi Jinping was confirmed by the People’s Congress for an unusual third term as president. At the party conference in October, the 69-year-old had already ignored the previously respected age and term of office restrictions and had a permanent leadership role anchored in the party constitution.

With his sole rule, he ties in with the founder of the state and revolutionary Mao Tsetung, who, however, had brought chaos to the country. At the one-week annual conference, which lasts until Monday, the largest government reshuffle in ten years will take place, at which mainly close confidants of Xi Jinping will rise.

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