tirsdag 4. august 2020

Who Will Be China’s Next Premier?

Who would have imagined street stalls could grab so much attention in China? Premier Li Keqiang’s comments about expanding street stalls to promote employment and the apparent pushback by Xi Jinping’s allies against his proposal have also revealed something that has become an afterthought in the Xi era: the power and importance of the country’s premier.

Li’s days as premier are limited – in fact, a little less than 1,000. When the National People’s Congress (NPC) amended China’s constitution in 2018 to remove term limits for the positions of president and vice president, it left the two-term limit for the premier unchanged. Li will have to either retire a bit early (he will be 67 at the 20th Party Congress in 2022, an age at which Politburo-level Chinese politicians usually receive a new five-year term) or move to a different position, for example chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC or the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, similar to what Li Peng did in 1998. Because of the focus on what Xi will do in 2022, an important question has been ignored: Who will take Li Keqiang’s place?