Mar 14, 2013 / 8:59 pm
China named the Communist Party's No. 2 leader, Li Keqiang, premier on Friday as a long-orchestrated leadership transition nears its end, leaving the new leaders to confront uneven economic growth, unbridled corruption and a severely befouled environment that are stirring public discontent.
The party-controlled legislature overwhelmingly selected Li, the only candidate for the post, 2,940 in favour with one opposed and six abstaining. A day earlier, the legislature similarly appointed Xi Jinping to the ceremonial post of president, making him China's pre-eminent leader following his ascent last November to head the Communist Party and the military.
Though the outcome of the legislative session was a foregone conclusion, it's the result of years of fractious behind-the-scenes bargaining. They hail from different factions: Li Keqiang (pronounced lee kuh chahng) is a protege of the now-retired President Hu Jintao while Xi Jinping (pronounced shee gin ping) is the son of a revolutionary veteran with backing among party elders.
After Li's selection was announced, he and Xi shook hands and smiled for photographers in the Great Hall of the People. Evidence of their and their patrons' ability to forge consensus will be seen Saturday when appointments to the Cabinet and other top government posts are announced.
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