China has named Li Qiang, a close confidant of President Xi Jinping, as the country’s next premier.
Li was nominated by Xi and appointed to the position with no dissenting voices at this morning’s session of the National People’s Congress, China’s ceremonial parliament, in Beijing. He replaces outgoing premier Li Keqiang.
The 63-year-old received votes from nearly all the more than 2,900 delegates who voted.
Li is best known for having enforced a brutal “zero-COVID” lockdown in Shanghai last spring as party boss of the Chinese financial hub. In doing so, he proved his loyalty to Xi in the face of protests and complaints from residents over their lack of access to food, medical care, and basic services.
As premier, Li will be charged with reviving China’s sluggish economy still emerging from the pandemic. He will also have to tackle weak global demand for exports, lingering US tariff hikes, a shrinking workforce, and an aging population.
China’s economy grew by just 3 percent last year and on the opening day of parliament, Beijing set a modest 2023 growth target of about 5 percent, its lowest goal in nearly three decades.