‘Xi Jinping’s guy’: Longtime acolyte Li Qiang set to be China’s next premier

Four years before Li Qiang gained notoriety as the force behind the two-month COVID-19 lockdown of Shanghai, the man set to become China’s next premier worked quietly behind the scenes to drive a bold revamp of the megacity’s sclerotic stock market.

Li’s back-channeling — sources said he bypassed the China Securities Regulatory Commission, which lost some of its power under the new set-up — demonstrated what became a reputation for pragmatism as well as close ties with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In late 2018, Xi himself announced Shanghai’s new tech-focused STAR Market as well as the pilot of a registration-based IPO system, reforms meant to entice China’s hottest young firms to list locally rather than overseas.

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