In this Oct. 18, 2017 photo, Li Shangfu, center, the director of the Equipment Development Department of China’s Central Military Commission, attends the opening ceremony of China’s 19th Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. InternationalIndiaAfricaBEIJING (Sputnik) – Deputies of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) have approved the appointment of 65-year-old general Li Shangfu to the post of Minister of National Defence. The vote was held on Sunday during the fifth plenary meeting of the first session of the 14th NPC. Li Shangfu has been under US sanctions for military cooperation with Russia. Ding Xuexiang, He Lifeng, Zhang Guoqing and Liu Guozhong were approved for the posts of vice premiers on Sunday. Li Shangfu, Wang Xiaohong, Wu Zhenglong, Shen Yiqin and Qin Gang were endorsed as Chinese state councilors. Ding succeeded Han Zheng, who was elected vice president on Friday, as the country’s first vice premier. Ding is considered one of the closest political advisers of President Xi Jinping.
He Lifeng replaces Liu He, the “economic tsar” who enjoys Xi’s full confidence and is one of China’s most influential economic and financial officials.
Before the appointment to the vice premier’s post, Zhang was mayor of provincial-level cities of Chongqing and Tianjin and was the Communist Party Secretary of Liaoning province in northeastern China.
Liu is likely to be in charge of agriculture, previously entrusted to vice premier Hu Chunhua, and public healthcare, formerly run by vice premier Sun Chunlan.
Areas of responsibility are usually allocated among the four vice premiers based on their qualifications and experience. Their exact duties are only revealed at the first full government meeting, presided over by the prime minister.
Five new state councilors, placed in the hierarchy between the vice premiers and cabinet ministers, include Defense Minister Li, Public Security Minister Wang, Secretary-General of the State Council Wu, Foreign Minister Qin and Shen, who has no ministerial post.
The only cabinet-level personnel reshuffles were at the defense ministry and the National Development and Reform Commission, with the majority of ministers retaining their positions.NPC lawmakers also confirmed the appointment of the secretary-general of the State Council (Wu Zhenglong) on Sunday, and endorsed the heads of 26 departments of the State Council. On Saturday, the NPC — China’s supreme state authority — approved the appointment of Li Qiang to the post of Premier. On Friday, the deputies unanimously reelected Xi Jinping as the president of China for a third five-year term.