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China’s legislature OKs new premier

LI KEQIANG

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LI KEQIANG

BEIJING — The Chinese Communist Party’s number two leader was confirmed Friday as premier, tasked with addressing a slowing economy and defusing public anger over corruption, pollution, and a growing gap between rich and poor.

China’s rubberstamp Legislature appointed Li Keqiang to the premiership as a long-orchestrated leadership transition neared its end.

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Final touches take place Saturday with selections of vice premiers, a central bank governor, and finance and other ministers, and the legislature wraps up on Sunday.

Party chief Xi Jinping was appointed Thursday to the ceremonial post of president, completing his ascension as China’s preeminent leader after being promoted last November to head the Communist Party and the military.

Though the outcome of the legislative session was a foregone conclusion, it is the result of years of fractious behind-the-scenes bargaining.

The two hail from different factions: Li Keqiang is a protege of the now-retired president Hu Jintao while Xi Jinping is the son of a revolutionary veteran with backing among party elders.

Xi cuts an authoritative figure with a confidence and congeniality that was lacking in his predecessor, the aloof and stiff Hu.

Li, from a mid-level official’s household, has appeared to be a cautious administrator, like Hu, and has not been associated with particular policies on his rise.

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