China Dubs Li Keqiang New Premier

Will take on economy, domestic concerns

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 15, 2013 1:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – Yesterday, China officially selected its new president; today, the country has chosen its new premier, Li Keqiang. At Beijing's National People's Congress, Li was confirmed to follow Wen Jiabao, winning 2,940 votes to three, the BBC reports. Already the Communist Party's no. 2, Li will lead on China's economy, as well as a range of domestic and environmental issues; he has been pushing for increased urbanization since November, Reuters notes.

Li, now 57, began as a manual laborer on a commune and eventually became the youngest provincial governor in China. "His intent to reform is quite strong," an analyst says. While a student, Li was friends with pro-democracy activists, some of whom went into exile following the Tiananmen Square protests. "He has a better understanding of how Westerners think," says another expert. But his career was marked by an HIV crisis in his province of Henan, when thousands of farming families developed the disease following blood transfusions. "When the AIDS epidemic exploded, everything that Li Keqiang did was with the aim of covering it up," said a dissident.

New Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, poses with his predecessor Wen Jiabao Friday, March 15, 2013.
New Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, poses with his predecessor Wen Jiabao Friday, March 15, 2013.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Li Keqiang applauds after a speech in Beijing's Great Hall of the People Friday, March 8, 2013.
Li Keqiang applauds after a speech in Beijing's Great Hall of the People Friday, March 8, 2013.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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