Xi Jinping appointed Premier Li Qiang, 63, during the annual meeting of China's parliament. And Parliament, as was easy to expect, confirmed the appointment: with 2,936 votes in favor, three against, eight abstentions.

Li Qiang will replace Li Keqiang, who became prime minister in 2013 amid high hopes for liberal reforms. Very close to previous Chinese President Hu Jintao, Li Keqiang had no room for maneuver within a Central Committee increasingly dominated by President Xi. Just as Hu Jintao was publicly humiliated by his forced removal during the last CCP meetings, Li Keqiang was also progressively marginalized by Xi, who appointed his allies to key positions. In contrast, Li Qiang, former head of the Communist Party in Shanghai, is a Xi loyalist.