China names new premier as transition nears end

Associated Press
Outgoing Chinese President Hu Jintao, center, poses with his successor Xi Jinping, right, after Xi was elected at a plenary session of the National People's Congress held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday, March 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

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China is formally installing the Communist Party's second-ranked leader, Li Keqiang, as premier, as a once-a-decade leadership transition nears its well-ordered conclusion.

The largely powerless legislature overwhelmingly selected Li on Friday, a day after legislators appointed party chief Xi Jinping to the ceremonial state presidency.

The appointments were foreordained after Xi and Li ascended to the leadership's top spots at a party congress in November.

Since then, they have signaled that they intend to combat widespread official corruption, try to lessen a wide income gap and repair the severely polluted environment — issues that are driving public discontent.

The legislature's annual session and the political transition reach their end this weekend with the appointment of Cabinet officials to manage the economy, foreign affairs and an increasingly fractious society.

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