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China chooses Li Qiang as Premier, trusted ally of Xi Jinping

China chooses Li Qiang as Premier, trusted ally of Xi Jinping

China chooses Li Qiang as Premier, trusted ally of Xi Jinping

China chooses Li Qiang as Premier, trusted ally of Xi Jinping

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  • The National People’s Congress approved Li in a ceremonial vote.
  • Li received 2,936 votes, with three votes against him and eight abstentions.
  • Li is one of Xi’s most trusted lieutenants and one of the country’s most prominent leaders in decades.
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China‘s rubber-stamp legislature has named Li Qiang, a long-time aide to leader Xi Jinping, as premier, with the burden of restoring the world’s second-largest economy following three years of zero-Covid restrictions.

On Saturday morning, the National People’s Congress approved Li in a ceremonial vote at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. Li received 2,936 votes, with three votes against him and eight abstentions.

Li, 63, is one of Xi’s most trusted lieutenants and one of the country’s most prominent leaders in decades. He will succeed outgoing Premier Li Keqiang, who has served as Xi’s deputy since 2013.

Traditionally, the premiership is an influential job in charge of the economy, but Xi has undermined its power over the last decade by taking practically all decision-making into his own hands.

Yet, much of the next premier’s efforts will likely be focused on trying to turn around the Chinese economy, which recently set a GDP growth target of approximately 5% for this year – the lowest in decades.

That will not be easy: China is experiencing a historic downturn in the vital property market, consumer spending is weak, and youth unemployment remains high. Local governments are also burdened by debt.

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Relations between the USA and China

With an unprecedented regulatory onslaught on the private sector and growing uncertainty about China’s future strategy, business confidence has plunged. Relations between the United States and China are at an all-time low, resulting in increasing conflicts in technology and investment. Foreign investment in China has been declining.

During a leadership transition in October, Xi picked Li Qiang, a former Communist Party boss of Shanghai who presided over the city’s catastrophic two-month lockdown, as the guy to take on these difficulties.

Li began his career as an irrigation pumping station worker in the eastern province of Zhejiang. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural mechanization at a college in Ningbo before working his way up through the provincial bureaucracy.

His career took off after he worked as Xi’s de facto chief of staff between 2002 and 2007 when Xi was the party chairman of Zhejiang province.

According to observers, Li is the first premier since the Mao era who did not previously serve as vice premier at China’s State Council.

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When Li was promoted last year, Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, claimed that his personal links with Xi appeared to have sealed his elevation over more competent candidates.

Yet, some observers believe his time in Shanghai, particularly prior to last year’s Covid lockout, indicated a pragmatic, pro-business approach.

During Li’s tenure, Tesla built the city’s first gigafactory outside the United States. Tesla owns the entire factory, making it the first foreign automaker in China to do so.

According to Citi analysts in a research paper, “China’s business environment should grow more hospitable, at least in the next two years” under Li, who is expected to assist private enterprises and foreign investors.

In 2019, Li also oversaw the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s debut of China’s Nasdaq-style stock market.

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