Mar 11, 2023 - World

Xi ally Li Qiang becomes China's new premier

China's new premier Li Qiang

Li Qiang, a close aide to Chinese President Xi Jinping, was elected China's new premier. Photo: Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

Li Qiang, a close ally to Chinese President Xi Jinping, was elected China's new premier on Saturday.

The big picture: Chinese premiers have traditionally been in charge of the Chinese economy, but this position has been weakened under Xi, who centralized power over the past decade and on Friday started his third term as China's top leader.

  • Li is widely expected to implement the top leader's core agendas, but he will have more sway over the country's economic policies including reviving China’s economy after three years of COVID restrictions, analysts say.

State of play: The 63-year-old Li is perceived by many as a pro-business pragmatist who supports the continued growth of the private sector.

  • However, unlike previous premiers, Li had never held office at the national level before being elected to the Chinese Communist Party's top leadership last fall.
  • He replaces Li Keqiang, who retired after two five-year terms as premier.

Details: Li and Xi's relationship dates back to the early 2000s when Li served as the party secretary of Wenzhou, a coastal city in Zhejiang province known for its entrepreneurs. He later served as Xi's chief of staff when the future president was the Zhejiang party chief.

  • "Officials know that Li Qiang is Xi Jinping's guy," Trey McArver, cofounder of consultancy Trivium China, told Reuters. "He clearly thinks that Li Qiang is a very competent person and he has put him in this position because he trusts him and he expects a lot of him."
Go deeper