Li Qiang, China’s newly appointed premier, faces a daunting task of reviving the country’s economy amid growing tensions with foreign powers and a global pandemic. Li’s rise to the highest political office in China came after he won the support of President Xi Jinping, who also handpicked him as the governor of Shanghai in 2017.
Li’s close relationship with Xi is expected to give him the power to push through tough economic reforms, woo foreign investors, and navigate China through its trade war with the United States. The new premier’s quest to improve the country’s economic growth also involves attracting Tesla, the American electric carmaker, to set up its manufacturing plant in Shanghai.
Li’s appointment came at the expense of Li Keqiang, China’s outgoing premier, who was criticized for his handling of the country’s economic slowdown. Analysts expect Li to implement more public investments in infrastructure, technology, and green energy to boost economic growth.
There are, however, concerns among some political commentators that Li, like many other Chinese officials, could be a puppet of Xi rather than an independent decision-maker. Such fears prompted a commentary in the CNA that questioned whether Li would be a yes-man to Xi or his own man.
Regardless of these concerns, Li’s coronation was not without opposition. According to Yahoo News, only one official at the ceremony voted against Li’s appointment, and the dissenting vote was seen as a sign of discontent within the ruling Communist Party.
As China’s economy continues to grapple with the consequences of the pandemic and the trade war, Li faces the challenge of reviving the country’s growth and improving the lives of its citizens. How he handles these tasks will shape his legacy as China’s premier and Xi’s right-hand man.