|Li Keqiang is endorsed as the premier of China's State Council at the fifth plenary meeting of the first session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, capital of China, March 15, 2013. (Xinhua)
BEIJING, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Li Keqiang was endorsed as Chinese premier Friday morning at the ongoing session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature.
Nearly 3,000 NPC deputies voted to approve the nomination of Li, by newly-elected President Xi Jinping, as the candidate for premier at the legislative session.
By approving Li's nomination, the deputies cleared the way for Li to be appointed as premier by President Xi.
When the voted endorsement was announced, Li stood up and bowed to the deputies, smiling. He shook hands with President Xi and former Premier Wen Jiabao.
After the NPC meeting, Xi signed his first presidential decree to appoint Li as premier.
Li becomes the seventh premier since the People's Republic of China (PRC) was founded in 1949, replacing Wen who had headed the State Council since 2003.
Born in 1955 in Anhui Province, he joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1976 and graduated from Peking University with law and economics degrees.
After working as provincial leaders in Henan and Liaoning, he was elected to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in 2007 and appointed vice premier in 2008.
Li was reelected to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in November.
"The new premier bears an important but difficult mission," NPC deputy Wang Yuzhi said. "We have high expectations of him and the new government."
After a decade of fast economic growth, China's national strength has notably increased but the country also faces a tough task to push forward reform in key areas, Wang said.
Li is known for calling reform "the biggest dividend for China."
Since being reelected in November as a senior Party leader, Li has used different occasions to facilitate reforms and showed toughness in advancing complex ones.
"Reform is like rowing upstream. Failing to advance means falling back," he said at a symposium on advancing comprehensive reforms.
"Those who refuse to reform may not make mistakes, but they will be blamed for not assuming their historical responsibility."
At Friday's meeting, the deputies also voted to decide on the country's military leaders.
Fan Changlong and Xu Qiliang were endorsed as vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the PRC, after the nomination by President Xi, also CMC chairman.
Chang Wanquan, Fang Fenghui, Zhang Yang, Zhao Keshi, Zhang Youxia, Wu Shengli, Ma Xiaotian and Wei Fenghe were appointed CMC members after Xi's nomination.
General Fan, born in May 1947, and General Xu, born in March 1950, are both members of the Political Bureau of the 18th CPC Central Committee and vice chairmen of the CPC Central Military Commission.
The NPC deputies also elected Zhou Qiang as president of the Supreme People's Court and reelected Cao Jianming as procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate.
Li Keqiang -- Premier of China's State Council
In pictures: Li Keqiang endorsed as Chinese premier