Li has been vice-premier since 2008. Like President Hu, his power base lies with the Communist Youth League, where he was a member of the secretariat of the league’s central committee in the 1980s and later in the 1990s the secretariat’s first secretary. His regional governance experience includes a period as vice party boss, governor and party boss of Henan province between 1998 and 2003 and party boss of Liaoning province beginning in 2004. Li graduated from Peking University with a degree in economics. He has been a member of the Politburo’s standing committee since 2007.
Rise in online fan clubs extolling China's party leaders
Two microblogs devoted to incoming premier Li Keqiang draw 12,000 followers, but experts say that does not show an easing of censorship
More online fan clubs for new Communist Party leaders have sprung up on mainland social media platforms, taking their lead from a microblog devoted to party chief Xi Jinping that caught the media's eye.
A young man behind the Qiangqiang Fan Club microblog, devoted to premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang, said Li's affinity with ordinary people was the main reason he set up the microblog.
"He is always staying with us, watching over our livelihoods and opinions on the internet," said the microblogger, a member of the post-80s generation from northeastern China who refused to reveal his identity.
Another Sina Weibo microblog, the Learn from Li Fan Club, described Li as a "knowledgeable and elegant man with reform consciousness and rich grass-roots work experience".
Online fan clubs for top leaders are not a new phenomenon on the mainland. In 2008, a website called Shijin Babao Fan (fans of the assorted, eight-treasure rice) was set up on a People's Daily site, drawing fans of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao .
The microbloggers behind the two Li fan microblogs, which have about 12,000 followers in total, said they had not faced pressure from the authorities and denied they were inspired by Xi's fan club microblog, which has more than a million followers.
"As China's internet population has sharply increased, coverage about the leadership has been transferred to the internet, which could reduce the distance between top leaders and internet users," said the man behind the Qiangqiang Fan Club. "I truly believe that one day in the future some internet users will be invited to Zhongnanhai (the party leadership compound in central Beijing)."
But experts said that the popularity of the fan club microblogs was not an indication of a weakening of media censorship.
"It is still a form of propaganda to sing the praises of the top leadership," said Zhang Zhian , a journalism professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. "What really matters is not how the top leaders are shown but what they do. The media's obligation is to supervise the government, but if the government keeps imposing a media blackout on the internet and on outspoken media on the mainland, the voice is still unbalanced."
One of the posts attracting the most comments on the Learn from Li Fan Club microblog is a black-and-white photograph of a young woman whom the microblogger claims is Cheng Hong , Li's wife, who is rarely seen in the state media.
The operator of the Qiangqiang Fan Club, which opened on December 15, said he did all the work himself. It features candid photographs of Li on inspections and some remarks by Li reported in the state media, as well as posts about other top leaders including Xi.
Asked who was behind the Learn from Li Fan Club microblog, its operator, registered as a woman from Beijing, said "no comment".