China confirms new prime minister

Beijing, Mar 15 (EFE).- The People's National Assembly on Friday formally appointed Li Keqiang, 57, as China's prime minister for the next 10 years.

Li, who since 2008 was deputy premier in charge of financial affairs, was elected by the almost 3,000 delegates in a vote whose result had been known since last November, when he became deputy leader of the ruling Communist Party.

After the procedure was completed, Li bowed to the delegates and, amid applause, shook the hand of the man who on Thursday became president of China, Xi Jinping.

He then greeted effusively, and was congratulated by, a very smiling, relaxed Wen Jiabao, who is retiring after a decade in which China rose from No. 6 to No. 2 in the global economic rankings.

Li takes on the complex responsibility of guiding China up the last step to the No. 1 position in the world economy, which some analysts believe could come about before the end of this decade.

Li's first public act as prime minister will be the press conference after the annual assembly meeting, this time on Sunday, which hundreds of Chinese and foreign reporters are expected to attend.

In Spanish-speaking countries, in any case, he is already known from his visit to Spain in January 2011, which created great expectations, since he was accompanied by the large business delegation.

His confirmation on Friday officially kicks off what is now being called the "Xi-Li Administration," in which the fifth generation of Chinese leaders opens a new era for the regime, following those headed by Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.