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China's mighty Xi, Li set to rule state for next 10 years

Last updated on: March 15, 2013 11:39 IST

China's mighty Xi, Li set to rule state for next 10 years

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Li Keqiang, Communist Party of China's second ranking leader, was on Friday elected as Prime Minister by the Parliament succeeding Wen Jiabao who retired after a generational transition of power in the world's most populous country.

Li, 57 currently the vice premier was nominated for the top post by the newly elected President Xi Jinping and his candidature was endorsed by the 3000-member Parliament, the National People's Congress.

Li was named as the new premier, a day after China's Parliament formally elected Xi, as president, four months after he took charge of the Communist Party.

Besides being the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, which effectively rules the country, Xi has also been appointed as the chairman of the powerful Military Commission, when he was elected as the new leader of the party in November Last.

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Image: China's President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with China's newly-elected Premier Li Keqiang during the fifth plenary meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
Photographs: Jason Lee/Reuters

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China's mighty Xi, Li set to rule state for next 10 years

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A princeling himself like Xi, Li born into the family of a local official in Dingyuan County reportedly refused his father's proposition to be groomed to be the leader of the local county.

During the Cultural Revolution headed by Mao Zedong he was sent to the rural labour camp in Fengyang County, Anhui, where he eventually joined the Communist Party.

He acquired Doctorate degree in Economics and became the Communist Youth League Secretary at Peking University in 1980.

Li later acquired a law degree and was awarded with the honour of outstanding individual in the study of Mao Zedong thought at that time.

Li climbed the ranks while working closely with outgoing President Hu Jintao in his early days while working in the Youth League.

Together with Xi, Li who had the image of a moderate and reformer was expected to continue to rule China for the next ten years.

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Image: A general view inside the Great Hall of the People during the fifth plenary meeting of National People's Congress in Beijing
Photographs: Barry Huang/Reuters
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Known to be easy going, like his predecessor Wen, Li has the reputation for caring the less privileged.

Li's period in the rural areas was marked by some setbacks specially the spread of HIV through contaminated blood. But he retrieved his image by doing a better job reviving economy of Henan province, with a string of reforms in state-owned industries.

Besides Li, the NPC has elected a new set of ministers and officials for the top military posts, completing the once-in-a-decade leadership change of the ruling Communist Party of China.

On Thursday Xi Jinping emerged as China's most powerful leader in decades after he was elected as the president and powerful military chief, besides being the head of the ruling Communist Party, smoothly completing a 10-yearly transition of power in the world's second-largest economy.

The 3,000-member strong China's Parliament, the National People Congress, elected 59-year-old Xi as president and the chairman of the Military Commission, four months after he took over as the general secretary of the Communist Party.

He succeeds Hu Jintao, 70, and unlike his predecessor who in 2003 started his tenure as party chief and president, Xi has all the three offices -- party, military and state -- through which he is likely to wield power for the next decade.

Xi, who attaches "great importance" to developing ties with India, has assured New Delhi that Beijing would work to create a brighter future of their bilateral relations.

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Image: China's newly-elected Premier Li Keqiang shakes hands with China's former Premier Wen Jiabao (front, 3rd L) as China's President Xi Jinping (front, R) and other delegates clap during the fifth plenary meeting of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Photographs: Barry Huang/Reuters
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"China will, as it has been doing, pay great importance to developing relations with India and expects to carry out close cooperation with India to create a brighter future of their bilateral relations," Xi wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in January.

The presidency coupled with the post of the chairman of Military Commission which supervises 2.3 million-strong world's largest standing military, People's Liberation Army, gives him a head start to begin his 10 year stint in power.

Hu got the post of head of the Military from Jiang Zemin two years after he took over as the president.

While retiring Hu ensured that the head of the country and the party has single power structure to ensure stability.

Also, Xi is the lone civilian member of the Military Commission dominated by top military officials of all the three forces. During Hu's era, Xi as the vice president, was also vice chairman of Military Commission.

Backed by powerful PLA, Xi has already began asserting his power by getting Li Yuanchao, a reformist and politburo member, elected as vice-president overruling the opposition from powerful faction headed by former President Jiang.

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Image: China's Politburo Standing Committee members, (1st row from L to R), Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yunshan, Zhang Dejiang, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Wang Qishan and other delegates attend the fifth plenary meeting of the National People's Congress in Beijing
Photographs: Jason Lee/Reuters
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