Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Monday, March 17, 2003

Wen Jiabao Succeeds Zhu Rongji as China's Premier

Chinese lawmakers Sunday elected Wen Jiabao, 60, as new premier in a landslide vote, entrusting the former vice-premier with the tasks of keeping China's economy moving and furthering its reform and opening up policies.


Wen Jiabao Approved as China's New Premier
Chinese lawmakers Sunday elected Wen Jiabao, 60, as new premier in a landslide vote, entrusting the former vice-premier with the tasks of keeping China's economy moving and furthering its reform and opening up policies.

Nearly 3,000 deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) applauded warmly, both congratulating Wen and saluting his predecessor Zhu Rongji, as the two shook hands after the election at the Great Hall of the People Sunday morning.

The top legislature also approved newly elected Chinese President Hu Jintao as one of the three vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the People's Republic of China.

In a secret ballot, long-time judge Xiao Yang, 64, was re-elected president of the Supreme People's Court, while Jia Chunwang, 64, was promoted to procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

The Constitution of China stipulates that NPC members elect the nation's top judge and prosecutor, and requires that the candidate for the premier's post be nominated by the president.

The candidates for vice-chairmen and members of the CMC must be nominated by the CMC chairman, according to the Constitution.

All candidates are subject to approval by NPC vote.

All of the appointments and elections at the meeting follow the single-candidate system -- that is, they were appointed or elected from an equal number of candidates by secret ballot.

After expressing their confidence in Wen, Chinese lawmakers aired their concerns and highlighted the chief tasks they hoped the new leadership will tackle.

Li Zhuqi, an NPC deputy from Beijing, said: "I was very much impressed by his (Wen's) work during the summer of 1998, when he played an important role in fighting the floods.

"I was also impressed by his diligent, down-to-earth working style. I hope he will maintain it.''

Li, also deputy executive director of National Foundation for Natural Sciences, urged the new leadership to address the challenges brought about by China's entry into the World Trade Organization.

NPC deputy Gao Guotuan, an agro-technician from Central China's Henan Province, said: "Personally I hope Premier Wen will give due emphasis to improving the life of farmers, accelerating the industrialization of agriculture and the relocation of the redundant labour force in the countryside to new jobs -- I mean urbanization.''

NPC deputy Peng Zhenkun of Central China's Hubei Province said the new government should invest more to develop the country's relatively poor western regions, especially those where ethnic minorities live.

The development of western regions in China, especially in the education sector, is crucial to its goal of building a well-off society in an all-round way, said Peng, president of Hubei Institute for Nationalities.

Commenting on the judicial elections Sunday, Yu Jie, a legislator from Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, said he anticipated the country's judges and prosecutors would do their jobs on a more just and independent footing in the coming years.

"We hope the new government will make headway in implementing the basic strategy of governing the country by law,'' said Yu, who is also deputy procurator-general of the Chongqing People's Procuratorate.

Sergio Ley Lopez, Ambassador of Mexico, said: "I'm very confident the new leadership in place right now for China will continue to open to the outside world ...The world in general is quite confident, as my government in Mexico is, that China will continue growing as it has done up to now.''

The ongoing annual session of the 10th NPC, due to wind up on Tuesday, is set to decide on appointments to the vice-premiers', ministers' and other key posts Monday.

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