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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang appointed to second 5-year term

Last Updated Mar 18, 2018 at 9:20 am EDT

Members of military honor guard march into the hall for an oath taking ceremony during a plenary session of China's National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Saturday, March 17, 2018. Xi Jinping was reappointed Saturday as China's president with no limit on the number of terms he can serve. The ceremonial National People's Congress voted unanimously for Xi's second five-year term as president. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

BEIJING, China – China’s ceremonial legislature appointed Premier Li Keqiang, the No. 2 leader of the ruling Communist Party, to a second five-year term Sunday and approved the appointment of a director for a new anti-corruption agency with sweeping powers.

National People’s Congress delegates voted 2,964 to 2 to approve Li’s appointment. The vote came a day after party leader Xi Jinping was reappointed China’s president with no limits on how many terms he can serve.

The premier traditionally is China’s top economic official, but Xi, the country’s most dominant leader since Mao Zedong, has stripped Li of many of the post’s most prominent duties by appointing himself to lead party bodies that oversee economic reform and state industry.

The legislature also approved the appointment of Yang Xiaodu as director for the National Supervisory Commission, created from a merger of the party’s internal anti-graft watchdog with one that oversees civil servants. It will have the power to detain suspects for up to six months without seeking court approval.

Political analysts see the creation of the anti-graft agency as part of efforts to enforce party control over an increasingly complex society and government.

A marathon anti-corruption campaign led by Xi has snared thousands of government officials and managers of state companies.

Xi has been steadily tightening central control over the government and state industry while also stepping up efforts to crush dissent.

On Saturday, a key Xi ally, Wang Qishan, was appointed to the previously ceremonial post of vice-president.