Xi cements influence as China's parliament appoints close ally Li Qiang as premier
Li Qiang, one of Chinese President Xi Jinping's most trusted allies, was confirmed as premier on Saturday, as Xi cements his influence on the country's top leadership.
Li, the former Shanghai party chief who oversaw the city's gruelling two-month lockdown last spring, was named the successor of outgoing premier Li Keqiang at a meeting of the country's rubber-stamp parliament.
The 63-year-old received nearly every vote from the more than 2,900 delegates at the National People's Congress, a day after Xi was unanimously selected by deputies for a norm-breaking third term as president.
Xi's motion nominating Li Qiang as premier was read out to the chamber on Saturday morning.
Journalists were asked to leave the chamber as deputies, mostly dressed in dark suits, marked their ballots in a tightly choreographed process.
Delegates later applauded as Xi ceremoniously deposited his votes in the ballot box while cheerful traditional music played from speakers.
An electronic screen in the hall displayed 2,936 votes for Li, with only three delegates voting against his appointment and eight abstaining.
Li later took an oath, swearing to be loyal to China's constitution and to "work hard to build a prosperous, strong, democratic, civilized, harmonious and great modern socialist country".
His ascension had once seemed in doubt after his handling of the Shanghai lockdown, in which residents struggled to access food and medical care.
Unlike almost all previous premiers, Li does not have experience working at the central government level.
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