China's No. 2 Leader Li Keqiang Announces Plans To Step Down

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Mar 11, 2022 - 11:00 PM

As President Xi prepares to formally accept a third term as the PROC's paramount political leader in November (marking the first time since Mao that a Chinese leader would have served for such a long time), it looks like the Politburo has found another more appropriate sacrifice: China's Premier Li Keqiang will step down, according to an announcement made Friday during an important annual CCP news conference.

Of course, somebody important needs to take the fall for the country's shocking slowdown in GDP growth, which contracted to just 4 percentage points, as we first reported back in January. And it's not just GDP: all of China's constituent economic indicators appear to be sliding as well.

Although President Xi wields tremendous power by leading the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party along with the Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee, which are more exclusive leadership groups organized around the chairman, who typically wields supreme executive power. The premier, meanwhile, leads the State Council, a key administrative body to which all the various cabinet-level department heads report.

"You said this year is the last year in the current term of the Chinese government," Li, 66, told reporters at the National People's Congress in Beijing. "This year is also the last year in my premiership."

Friday's press briefing shouldn't be confused with the twice-a-decade Communist Party congress that's set to take place during the second half of this year. During the meeting, where top party posts will be reshuffled, the Congress is expected to vote for President Xi to remain in power for a third five-year term, something that would break the precedent of Chinese post-Mao leaders only serving for a maximum of two five year terms.

While Xi is widely expected to stay on, Chinese authorities have yet to comment publicly on his plans. Li said he had confidence in Xi's ability to continue leading the Chinese people.

"I’m confident that under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee, with comrade Xi Jinping at its core, with strong support of various sectors, and especially with the joint hard work of the Chinese people across the country, China’s economy will be able to overcome difficulties," Li said. "We will be able to achieve all the major goals and tasks for economic and social development set for the whole year and lay a due, solid foundation for the development of the country in the future."

However, even if he gives up his premiership, Li could still hold on to another important position. Li also serves as the No. 2 member of the Politburo’s supreme Standing Committee, a position he is young enough to retain even as he abandons his posting as premier, which is indisputably the No. 2 position in Chinese government.

Until Li’s promotion in 2012, the No. 2 party position was held by then-NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo while the No. 3 position was occupied by then-Premier Wen Jiabao.