Li Qiang
李强
Li in 2023
8th Premier of the People's Republic of China
Assumed office
11 March 2023
PresidentXi Jinping
Vice PremierDing Xuexiang
He Lifeng
Zhang Guoqing
Liu Guozhong
Preceded byLi Keqiang
Communist Party Secretary of Shanghai
In office
29 October 2017 – 28 October 2022
MayorYing Yong
Gong Zheng
Preceded byHan Zheng
Succeeded byChen Jining
Communist Party Secretary of Jiangsu
In office
30 June 2016 – 29 October 2017
GovernorShi Taifeng
Wu Zhenglong
Preceded byLuo Zhijun
Succeeded byLou Qinjian
Governor of Zhejiang
In office
21 December 2012 – 4 July 2016
Acting: 21 December 2012 – 30 January 2013
Party SecretaryXia Baolong
Preceded byXia Baolong
Succeeded byChe Jun
Personal details
BornJuly 1959 (age 64)
Rui'an, Zhejiang, China
Political partyChinese Communist Party
Alma mater
Signature

Li Qiang (Chinese: ; pinyin: Lǐ Qiáng; born July 1959) is a Chinese politician. He became the 8th premier of the People's Republic of China in March 2023, having been elevated to the second-ranking member on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee Politburo Standing Committee in October 2022. Li was the party secretary for Shanghai City from 2017 to 2022 where he pursued pro-business policies and handled the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Li is considered part of the "New Zhijiang Army", the party faction of Xi Jinping, the CCP general secretary and top leader since 2012. The close relationship started in the mid-2000s when both held party positions in Zhejiang Province. Li is generally regarded by observers as pro-business and has voiced support for economic reforms.

Early life and education

Li was born in Rui'an, Zhejiang in July 1959. He was a worker in the Irrigation Pump Station of Mayu District, Rui'an County from 1976 to 1977, and worked in the Third Tool Factory of Rui'an from 1977 to 1978.[1][2]

Li Qiang studied agricultural mechanization at the Ningbo Branch of Zhejiang Agricultural University (now Zhejiang Wanli University) from 1978 to 1982. He studied sociology by correspondence at the private China Sociology Correspondence University (中国社会学函授大学; defunct in 2021) in Beijing from 1985 to 1987.[1][3]

Li attended Zhejiang University for on-the-job graduate studies in management engineering from 1995 to 1997 and the Central Party School for on-the-job graduate studies in world economics from 2001 to 2004. He attended Hong Kong Polytechnic University from 2003 to 2005 and received an executive Master of Business Administration in 2005.[1]

Early career

Li joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in April 1983. He worked as a clerk at the Rui'an County Committee of the Communist Youth League of China (CYLC) from 1982 to 1983, and later as the secretary of the committee from 1983 to 1984.[2] He then served in progressively senior roles in the provincial department of civil affairs. He first served as the deputy division head and then division head of the Rural Relief Division of the Zhejiang Provincial Civil Affairs Department from 1984 to 1991.[2] He then served as the director of the Civil Affairs Department's Personnel Division from 1991 to 1992, and finally as the deputy head of the Civil Affairs Department from 1992 to 1996.[2]

In 1996, he became a member of the Party Standing Committee of the prefecture-level city of Jinhua and the Communist Party secretary of the city of county-level city of Yongkang (which is part of Jinhua).[2] In 1998, he was reappointed as the deputy director of the Zhejiang Provincial Government's General Office. In 2000, he became the director and party secretary of the Zhejiang Provincial Government's Bureau of Administration for Industry and Commerce.[2]

In 2002, he was appointed as the party secretary of the prefecture-level city of Wenzhou. By then he was only 43, and was the youngest party secretary of Wenzhou in history.[4] In 2004, Li became the secretary-general of Zhejiang's Provincial Party Committee and earned a seat on its Standing Committee in the next year, serving under then Zhejiang's party secretary, Xi Jinping, in charge of administration and coordination.[5] During this time, he became close to Xi, eventually being regarded as a close ally of him.[6] In February 2011, he became the Political and Legal Affairs Secretary of Zhejiang province, and several months later was made deputy party secretary.[1]

According to Guangming Daily in 2015, during his tenure in Zhejiang Li told a professor at Zhejiang University that the province's local government needed an "independent think-tank like the RAND Corporation" to evaluate its performance, saying that it was "very difficult" for official organizations and officials to give objective analysis and criticize their superiors.[7] This led the professor to establish a non-governmental group of experts in 2009, with Li as its honorary director.[7]

Local tenures

Zhejiang (2012–2016)

After the 18th CCP National Congress, he became an alternate member of the CCP Central Committee. On December 21, 2012, he became the acting governor of Zhejiang, succeeding Xia Baolong who was promoted to the provincial party secretary, and was officially elected as governor on January 30, 2013.[5][8] During his tenure in Zhejiang, he asked the non-governmental group of experts to write reports on his performance that "tell the truth", and later paid them a visit for a face-to-face feedback after feeling their first reports weren't critical enough.[7]

In 2014, when Zhejiang was preparing to hold an international internet conference, Li proposed that the host city turn into a pilot zone for unblocking China's strict internet controls for Western firms, an idea that was ultimately not approved by the central leadership.[9] He also started a project to create "characteristic towns", small towns focused on one type of business that have a pro-business climate and good physical environments. These included "Dream Town" for tech entrepreneurs and "Chocolate Town" for chocolate producers, both located in Zhejiang. This project was endorsed and spread to rest of China by Xi.[9] The Economist reported in 2023 that "many such towns became speculative hotspots for housing developers, and the kinds of businesses they were supposed to cultivate sometimes failed to take off".[7]

Jiangsu (2016–2017)

On June 30, 2016, Li was named party secretary of Jiangsu province.[10] He was removed as Zhejiang governor on July 4, 2016, when he was succeeded by Che Jun.[11] He served for 15 months, becoming the shortest serving Jiangsu party secretary in the history of the People's Republic. During his tenure, he arranged meetings with business officials such as Jack Ma of Alibaba Group to encourage investments.[9]

Shanghai (2017–2022)

On October 29, 2017, following the 19th Party Congress, Li was appointed as the party secretary of Shanghai.[1][12] He was also appointed as a member of the CCP Politburo in the same year. He is considered to be "business-friendly", having implemented pro-business policies while in Shanghai such as the opening of the Shanghai Stock Exchange STAR Market.[13][14] He oversaw increasing foreign investment in the city, including the gigafactory of Tesla, Inc.[15] He has also implemented policies like lowering the threshold for internal migrants to obtain residency permits and creating five new towns to lessen the land supply shortage.[15]

In early 2022, Shanghai implemented a two-month COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai, which significantly impacted the economy, leading Li to be blamed for the handling.[16] Nevertheless, reportedly he was more open to the idea with living with COVID.[9] There were also views that Li was pressured from the Central leadership to implement a lockdown, and that initially, Li had adhered strictly to the guidelines of leading epidemiologists in China, including Zhang Wenhong, who maintained a 'flexible strategy' on anti-Covid measures.[17][18] It is also said that Li and Zhang had a good personal relationship, as the two were both from Rui'an, a city under the Wenzhou prefecture. According to The Wall Street Journal, Li is one of the few people in the top leadership that wants China to introduce Western mRNA vaccines against COVID-19. Reportedly, he tried to arrange for BioNTech to provide its vaccines in China.[9]

Premiership (2023–)

See also: Li Qiang Government

Newly elected Premier Li Qiang with CCP General Secretary & President Xi Jinping at the first session of the 14th National People's Congress in 2023
Li and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on 30 March 2023
Li and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on 24 May 2023

Following the 1st Plenary Session of the 20th CCP Central Committee, held after the closing day of the 20th Party Congress in October 2022, Li was appointed to the CCP Politburo Standing Committee as its second-ranking member.[19] Effectively putting him on track to become the premier, observers speculated that the lack of Central Government experience would make him heavily dependent on support from Xi to run the State Council.[20] On 28 October, he was succeeded by Chen Jining as the party secretary of Shanghai.[21] Reuters reported on 3 March 2023, citing sources, that Li pushed for the quick relaxation of zero-COVID rules in late 2022, resisting pressure from Xi, who wanted to slow the pace of the reopening. It also reported that Li had become the head of the CCP's COVID taskforce, and had also encouraged local governments to continue loosening COVID restrictions.[22]

Li took office as premier on 11 March during the first session of the 14th National People's Congress, taking over from Li Keqiang.[23] He is the first person since Zhou Enlai to rise directly to premiership from local government without any prior working experience in the central government, especially as a vice premier.[24][25]

Diplomacy

In April 2023, Li met with Japanese foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi in Beijing in order to improve ties.[26] In May, Li met with Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin, where he the "comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between China and Russia in the new era", saying that bilateral trade between China and Russia had increased by 40% over the past year.[27] On 19 June 2023, Li started a trip to Germany, his first trip overseas as premier, where he met with president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, chancellor Olaf Scholz, as well as CEOs of large German companies such as Mercedes-Benz, SAP, and Siemens Energy.[28][29] After four days in Germany, he travelled to France on 21 June, where he met with French president Emmanuel Macron, prime minister Élisabeth Borne, as well as European Council president Charles Michel.[30]

Between 5 and 8 September, Li visited Jakarta, Indonesia, where he met with various ASEAN leaders. Li additionally met other leaders such as Australian prime minister Antony Albanese,[31] Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol[32] during various summits such as the ASEAN Plus Three summit[33] and the East Asia Summit.[34] Li Qiang also met with Indonesian president Joko Widodo, vowing $21.7 billion new Chinese investment in Indonesia.[35] Between 9 and 10 September, Li attended the G20 New Delhi summit, going in China's head of state Xi Jinping's place, who did not attend.[36] There, he met various leaders such as Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni,[37] President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen,[36] US president Joe Biden,[38] and British prime minister Rishi Sunak.[39]

Economy

Since becoming the premier, Li has attempted to reassure private entrepreneurs and restore confidence after the damage caused by zero-COVID restrictions, lifted in December 2022, and regulatory campaigns undertaken by the government; he also reportedly persuaded Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma to return to China after he spent a year overseas.[40] On 27 March 2023, he attended the China Development Forum, where he said that China will "unswervingly stick to opening up". He also met many foreign business executives, including Tim Cook of Apple Inc. and Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates, who made their first trip to China since the zero-COVID policy ended.[41] In November 2023, Li Qiang was appointed as the head of the Central Financial Commission, a newly established CCP body overseeing the financial sector.[42]

Political views

Economy and business

Li met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at the Great Hall of the People on 7 July 2023

Li is seen as pro-business and supportive of economic reforms,[15][13][43] promoting private sector and service sector development.[2] According to The Economist, "[r]educing bureaucratic interference in the market is one of his favourite themes".[7] In 2003 during his tenure in Wenzhou, he said that "without the private economy, Wenzhou’s urban development would be set back by at least a century".[9] In 2014, Li said that "there should be more Alibabas and more Jack Mas". Li said in 2015 that economic reforms were a matter of "life and death" and that "the government cannot be an unlimited government." He also said that "to build a limited yet effective modern government, you need to transfer a lot of managerial power to social organizations."[43] According to The Wall Street Journal, Li has close ties with Jack Ma.[9] The newspaper also reported that Li suggested to the government to ease its regulatory actions against businesses and acted as a mediatory between businesses and the government during the government's crackdown on private businesses.[9] Li has also been supportive of innovation related to information technology and artificial intelligence, and has called for more focus for the "real economy".[2]

Personal life

Unusual in senior Chinese politics, Li has emphasized his local identity, namely his ties to Wenzhou. He set up the World Wenzhounese Conference to encourage members of the global Wenzhounese diaspora to invest back in the city, and told the conference in 2013 that "I was born and bred a Wenzhounese" and "[t]he Wenzhounese spirit of daring to be the first and especially of strong entrepreneurship has always inspired and nourished me".[7]

Li's wife is a retired civil servant, who previously worked in the transportation bureau of the Zhejiang provincial government. The couple have one daughter who studied in Australia.[43][2]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "李强同志简历" [Resume of Comrade Li Qiang]. Xinhua News Agency. 2017-10-25. Archived from the original on 2022-10-19. Retrieved 2022-10-23.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Li Qiang 李强" (PDF). Brookings Institution. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  3. ^ Zhang, Yu (2021-10-29). "北京26所民办学校办学许可证被注销". news.sina.com.cn. Archived from the original on 2022-10-23. Retrieved 2022-10-23.
  4. ^ "李强浙江往事:改革是贯穿始终的头等大事". finance.sina.cn. 12 July 2016. Retrieved 31 December 2022.
  5. ^ a b 李强 [Li Qiang]. Xinhua News Agency (in Chinese). Archived from the original on January 18, 2017. Retrieved 2017-01-16.
  6. ^ Munroe, Tony; Tian, Yew Lun (2022-10-12). "After COVID lockdown, eyes on Shanghai chief at party congress". Reuters. Retrieved 2022-10-20.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "China's new head of government, Li Qiang, has Xi Jinping's ear". The Economist. 12 March 2023. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2023-03-13.
  8. ^ "夏宝龙当选浙江人大常委会主任 李强当选省长". January 30, 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Wong, Chun Han; Zhai, Keith. "China's No. 2 Is a Business Pragmatist and a Party Loyalist. Which Will Prevail?". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2022-11-02.
  10. ^ "李强任江苏省委书记,罗志军不再担任" [Li Qiang is appointed Secretary of the Jiangsu Provincial Party Committee, Luo Zhijun removed from the post]. The Paper. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2023.
  11. ^ "李强任江苏省委书记 车俊任浙江省委副书记兼代省长" [Li Qiang Appointed as Secretary of Jiangsu Provincial Party Committee, Chen Jun Appointed as Deputy Secretary of Zhejiang Provincial Party Committee]. Caixin. 4 July 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  12. ^ "李强兼任上海市委书记 韩正不再兼任". October 29, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Zhai, Keith; Xie, Stella Yifan (23 October 2022). "China's New Slate of Top Leaders Stirs Concern Over Economy". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  14. ^ Hale, Thomas; White, Edward (2022-10-23). "Xi Jinping promotes loyal Shanghai chief to upper echelons of power". Financial Times. Retrieved 2022-10-23.
  15. ^ a b c Zheng, William; Ren, Daniel (23 October 2022). "China's Li Qiang shakes off Shanghai Covid chaos to enter Communist Party inner circle". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  16. ^ Chia, Kyrstal (28 April 2022). "Xi in a Bind Over Who to Blame for Shanghai's Covid Outbreak". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 2022-10-20.
  17. ^ 記者邱國強, 中央社 (2022-10-23). "習家軍「有關係就沒關係」!從上海封城中走出來的「中共2號」…李強在台商眼中卻像財經官員?- 今周刊". www.businesstoday.com.tw (in Chinese). Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  18. ^ "上海市委书记李强考察张文宏实验室" [Li Qiang, Secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee, inspected Zhang Wenhong's laboratory]. China Digital Times (in Chinese (China)). 2021-08-18. Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  19. ^ "Communique of the first plenary session of the 20th CPC Central Committee". State Council of the People's Republic of China. Xinhua News Agency. 24 October 2022. Retrieved 10 June 2023.
  20. ^ Bradsher, Keith (23 October 2022). "A loyal aide in Shanghai takes a leading role in Beijing". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 1 January 2023.
  21. ^ "China Names Beijing Mayor Chen Jining As Shanghai Party Boss". Bloomberg News. 28 October 2022. Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  22. ^ Zhu, Julie; Yew, Lun Tian; Tham, Engen (3 March 2023). "How China's new No.2 hastened the end of Xi's zero-COVID policy". Reuters. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  23. ^ Chen, Laurie; Munroe, Tony (11 March 2023). "Li Qiang becomes China's premier, tasked with reviving economy". Reuters. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  24. ^ Ruwitch, John (2023-03-13). "Xi Jinping's show: Who's who in China's new government". NPR. Retrieved 2023-03-15.
  25. ^ Baptista, Eduardo; Munroe, Tony; Pollard, Martin Quin (23 October 2022). "China's next premier Li: A Xi loyalist who oversaw Shanghai lockdown". Reuters. Retrieved 1 January 2023.
  26. ^ Nakazawa, Katsuji. "Analysis: China's Li Qiang orchestrates warm welcome for Hayashi". Nikkei Asia. Retrieved 10 June 2023.
  27. ^ "Russia, China sign new agreements, defying Western criticism". Al Jazeera. 24 May 2023. Retrieved 10 June 2023.
  28. ^ Amann, Christina; Hübner, Alexander; Weiss, Patricia (2023-06-20). "China's premier tells German CEOs biggest risk is lack of cooperation". Reuters. Retrieved 2023-06-20.
  29. ^ "Germany, China hold meeting amid tensions over trade, Ukraine". Al Jazeera. 20 June 2023. Retrieved 20 June 2023.
  30. ^ Shi, Jiangtao (23 June 2023). "Li Qiang calls on France, EU to maintain strategic autonomy, expand cooperation". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 23 June 2023.
  31. ^ Needham, Kirsty (2023-09-07). "Australian PM to visit China soon as both sides hail progress". Reuters. Retrieved 2023-09-08.
  32. ^ Lee, Haye-ah (6 September 2023). "S. Korea, China in talks to arrange meeting between Yoon, Li Qiang". Yonhap News Agency. Retrieved 8 September 2023.
  33. ^ Suruga, Tsubasa; Royandoyan, Ramon (6 September 2023). "Japan PM, China premier trade barbs over Fukushima water release". Nikkei Asia. Retrieved 8 September 2023.
  34. ^ Ip, Cyril (8 September 2023). "South Korean leader Yoon says China should do more to address North's nuclear threat". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 8 September 2023.
  35. ^ Karmini, Niniek (8 September 2023). "Indonesia says China has pledged $21B in new investment to strengthen ties". Associated Press. Retrieved 8 September 2023.
  36. ^ a b Tian, Yew Lun (2023-09-10). "China, Europe should 'unite and co-operate', Premier Li says at G20". Reuters. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  37. ^ "Italian PM Meloni, China's Li Qiang discuss closer ties at G20 summit". Reuters. 2023-09-09. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  38. ^ Magnier, Mark (11 September 2023). "US holds highest-level talks with China in months, with Biden-Li meeting at G20". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 11 September 2023.
  39. ^ Smout, Alistair (2023-09-11). "PM Sunak raises concern over interference in UK democracy with China's Li". Reuters. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  40. ^ "Many wealthy people are considering leaving China". The Economist. 30 March 2023. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  41. ^ "China's New Premier Courts Foreign CEOs With Vow to Open Economy". Bloomberg News. 27 March 2023. Retrieved 10 June 2023.
  42. ^ Hancock, Tom (20 November 2023). "China Premier Li Qiang Named Head of Powerful Financial Body". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 20 November 2023.
  43. ^ a b c Mitchell, Tom (2022-10-28). "Li Qiang, Xi's right-hand man". Financial Times. Retrieved 2022-10-29.
Party political offices Preceded byJiang Jufeng Communist Party Secretary of Wenzhou 2002–2004 Succeeded byWang Jianman (王建满) Preceded byZhang Xi (张曦) Secretary-General of the CCP Zhejiang Provincial Committee 2004–2012 Succeeded byZhao Yide Preceded byWang Huizhong Secretary of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the CCP Zhejiang Provincial Committee 2011–2012 Succeeded byWang Huizhong Preceded byXia Baolong Deputy Communist Party Secretary of Zhejiang 2011–2012 Succeeded byWang Huizhong Preceded byLuo Zhijun Communist Party Secretary of Jiangsu 2016–2017 Succeeded byLou Qinjian Preceded byHan Zheng Communist Party Secretary of Shanghai 2017–2022 Succeeded byChen Jining Government offices Preceded byXia Baolong Governor of Zhejiang 2012–2016 Succeeded byChe Jun Preceded byLi Keqiang Premier of the State Council 2023–present Incumbent