Xi Jinping has nominated Li Qiang, 63, to become premier during the continuing annual meeting of China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the official Xinhua news agency has reported.
Li Qiang will replace Li Keqiang, who became premier in 2013 amid high hopes he would usher in liberal reforms. But his power was curbed by Xi, who increasingly sidelined Li Keqiang and placed allies in key strategic positions over him.
Li Qiang is the former Communist party chief of Shanghai, China’s largest city. Li Keqiang is retiring during the National People’s Congress session that ends on Monday, after serving two five-year terms.
Li Qiang is a close ally of Xi, serving as his chief of staff between 2004 and 2007, when Xi was provincial party secretary of eastern China’s Zhejiang province.
He was put on track for premier in October, when he was appointed to the number-two role on the politburo standing committee during the Communist party congress, held every five years.
Xi is installing a slate of loyalists in key positions amid the biggest government reshuffle in a decade, as a generation of more reform-minded officials retires and Xi further consolidates power after being elected president for an unprecedented third term on Friday.
On Saturday, Liu Jinguo was nominated as a candidate for director of the National Commission of Supervision, which oversees the government’s anti-corruption work, Xinhua reported.
Separately, Zhang Jun was nominated candidate for the president of the supreme people’s court, and Ying Yong was nominated candidate for procurator general of China’s supreme people’s procuratorate.
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