China has named Li Keqiang premier as the country’s leadership transition nears its conclusion. The legislature selected Li a day after appointing party chief Xi Jinping to the ceremonial state presidency.
Xi and Li, until now a vice premier to the outgoing Wen Jiabao, ascended to the leadership's top spots at a party congress in November. They have signaled that they intend to combat widespread official corruption, lessen a widening income gap and repair the severely polluted environment.
The legislature's annual session will come to an end over the weekend with the appointment of Cabinet officials to manage the economy and foreign affairs, among other needs.
Chancellor Angela Merkel was the first foreign leader to congratulate Li by telephone on Friday, Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television said. The report said Merkel had stressed that China's development was "extremely important for Germany and the world."
The two discussed the eurozone debt problem, the broadcaster said, with Merkel thanking Li for China’s support during the crisis.
In a formal telegram of congratulation circulated in Berlin, the chancellor expressed "the hope that traditional good and friendly relations between out two countries continue during your term of office."
On Thursday morning, China's parliament had appointed Communist Party leader Xi the nation's president. Under rules on age and tenure, Hu Jintao, 70, stepped down in November from party leadership after a decade.
Xi, 59, who succeeded Hu as leader of the ruling Communist Party in November, was handed the largely ceremonial additional title of president with a vote of 99.7 percent by the 2,961 delegates to the National People's Congress. Li received 99.69 percent of 2,940 votes cast.
mkg/jr (AFP, Reuters, AP)