Li Qiang is the first premier since the founding of the People’s Republic never to have served previously in the central government, meaning he may face a steep learning curve in the initial months on the job, analysts said.
Expectations are based on his credentials as party chief of the country’s largest city Shanghai and governor of neighbouring Zhejiang province – a hub of small- and mid-sized businesses – as well as and perhaps more importantly, his close ties with Xi.
A native of Zhejiang, Li’s working relationship with Xi began in the 2000s when the latter was appointed party chief there. Following Xi’s eventual move to Beijing, Li was promoted to Zhejiang governor in 2013, the No 2 role in the provincial government.
Three years later, Li was appointed party chief of Jiangsu province, an economic powerhouse on the east coast of China, before becoming the party boss of Shanghai.