BEIJING: China's parliament picked Wen Jiabao as premier yesterday, placing the world's fastest-growing major economy in the hands of a man who must also tackle deep problems like a rotten banking system and a yawning wealth gap.
Wen, 60, was confirmed as successor to the highly respected Zhu Rongji by the National People's Congress, China's ceremonial legislature, as it winds down its annual two-week session.
Nearly 3,000 delegates gathered in this capital's gigantic Great Hall of the People off Tiananmen Square to vote on Wen's appointment and put the final stamp of approval on a historic handover to a younger generation of leaders.
Parliament also re-elected Xiao Yang as top judge and chose former public security chief Jia Chunwang as top prosecutor to tackle the rampant corruption that is another blight on the economy.
Wen, who as vice-premier under Zhu handled a wide range of issues from finance and scientific research to disaster relief, received 2,906 votes for, three against, and 16 abstentions.
When the results flashed on a screen in the cavernous main hall, the bespectacled Wen smiled, took a bow, then shook hands with Zhu.
Wen's appointment followed the confirmation of Communist Party chief Hu Jintao as state president on Saturday.
Hu succeeded Jiang Zemin, who will continue to wield power behind the scenes as chairman of a powerful military body.
A former geologist whose smarts and loyalty helped him rise to the highest ranks of power, Wen also has a breadth of experience that is expected to serve him well, analysts said.
Since he was elevated to the number three spot in the ruling Communist Party last November, Wen has tried to buff his image as a champion of the common man.
He spent the Chinese New Year holiday in February eating dumplings with miners 700m below ground and he has visited villages to hear the problems of farmers.
His consensus-building style contrasts with that of his hot-headed mentor Zhu. – Reuters