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China appoints new Prime Minister Li Qiang

The Chinese parliament formally approved Li Qiang’s election as prime minister. He was approved by the vast majority of China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC) delegates on Saturday.

Li, considered a trusted supporter and longtime collaborator of the country’s leader Xi Jinping, replaced Li Keqiang in this position.

The choice was approved in a ceremonial vote by the National People’s Congress (NPC). According to a summary from the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, 2,936 delegates present voted for Li, three were against and eight abstained.

The new prime minister takes over the reins of the world’s second economy at a time of growing tensions in relations with the United States and a slowdown in economic growth in the country.

Li, who is the number two official in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), will nominally lead the State Council, or Chinese government, and will be tasked with overseeing the economy. The career bureaucrat replaces Li Keqiang, who is retiring after two five-year terms during which his role was seen to be steadily diminished as president Xi tightened his grip on power, and all the most important decisions.

The 63-year-old Li’s promotion is a continuation of the personnel adjustments approved at the CCP’s 20th National Congress in October 2022, when Xi Jinping further solidified his hold on power and surrounded himself with dependable allies on the committees that mattered most. Between 2004 and 2007, when Xi was the provincial party secretary of Zhejiang province, Li served as his chief of staff.

Xi defied convention by extending his reign as general secretary of the CCP for a third five-year term at the 20th Congress. The term limit for the head of state was removed from the constitution, which allowed the parliament to grant him an extraordinary third term as president of the PRC on Friday. This entails that Xi will have the position for life.

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