Xi Jinping has stressed the need to oppose pro-independence reforms in Taiwan as he closes the National People’s Congress, after a week in which the country’s ratified parliament granted the Chinese president an unprecedented third term, and key roles in the head of government have been reshuffled.
Xi concluded the session with a speech to the assembled delegates. On Friday, he secured his place as China’s most powerful leader in generations at a carefully choreographed ceremony in Beijing.
In his speech on Monday, Xi called for greater economic self-reliance and the peaceful development of cross-strait relations with Taiwan.
On Saturday, Li Qiang, a longtime Xi ally, was promoted to prime minister, the second most powerful position in the Chinese Communist Party. The former Shanghai Communist Party chief replaced Li Keqiang, who resigned after two five-year terms.
Across the list of other appointments, there were fewer changes than expected, with most ministers retaining their posts.
Xi has been placing allies in key roles in the government’s reshuffle, but has bucked convention by keeping Yi Gang as governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and Liu Kun as finance minister. Both men have reached or exceeded the official retirement age of 65.
The choice of continuity in these important economic roles indicates an emphasis on credibility and stability, said Matti Peking, China director at The Economist Intelligence Corporate Network.
“It may also be a tacit acknowledgment of some of the challenges facing Beijing at the moment,” she said. “The real challenge for this third Xi administration is whether it will address the structural imbalances in the Chinese economy and make the necessary reforms to ensure China’s long-term competitiveness.”
The government has set a target for economic growth for 2023 of around 5%, up from 3% last year, which was among the weakest performances in decades.
Reuters contributed to this report
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