Li Keqiang named Chinese premier

Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with Li Keqiang at the fifth plenary meeting of the first session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 15, 2013. Photo: Xinhua

March 15, as expected, Li Keqiang (李克强) was named premier of China’s State Council, replacing Wen Jiabao as head of government at the 5th plenary session of the on-going 12th National People’s Congress in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. Li is now officially at the helm of the world‘s second largest economy.

Like the day before, Li was not unanimously approved in the voting. Of the 2957 deputies present, 2940 voted “yay”, 3 voted “nay” and 6 abstained. Once again, there were uncounted ballots, eight this time, doubling yesterday’s four missing ballots in the “election” of President Xi Jinping.

Wen Jiabao, the out-going premier, who was not present in the beginning of the voting session, emerged after the short break as the ballots were counted. After the announcement of his election, Li Keqiang bowed to the deputies and shook hands with Xi Jinping and then Wen Jiabao who congratulated him on his election.

No surprises, no accidents, all went as expected in the well-ordered NPC session though Li appeared rather tense during the voting session, compared to the relaxed Xi who sat next to him, engaged in conversation with Zhang Dejiang (张德江), the newly appointed NPC chairman.

Li, who was said to be “the best-qualified head of government in recent memory” by a Washington D.C. based American news service, will be in charge of various domestic affairs.He has been the seventh premier since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, replacing Wen Jiabao who had headed the State Council since 2003.

Li, born in 1955 in Anhui Province, joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1976 and graduated from Peking University with law and economics degrees.

After working as provincial leaders in Henan and Liaoning provinces, he was elected to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in 2007 and appointed vice premier in 2008.

Meanwhile, Fan Changlong (范长龙) and Xu Qiliang (许其亮) were endorsed as vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission (CMC).

Zhou Qiang (周强) was elected president of the Supreme People's Court  and Cao Jianming (曹建明) was re-elected procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

Li Keqiang: A man who prioritizes people’s concerns


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