Li Keqiang has had a colourful career path, from manual labourer on a rural commune during the 1970s to provincial party leader in 2004.
His Communist Party credentials mirror closely those of current President Hu Jintao, with whom he is said to have close ties.
Born in 1955 in Anhui Province, Li studied law at Beijing's prestigious Peking University after his spell on a commune.
He joined the party in 1976 and became involved in student politics as head of the university's students' federation from 1978 to 1982.
After graduation, he slowly made his way up the party's hierarchy.
He joined the upper echelons of the party's youth league in the 1980s, when President Hu was in charge of the organisation.
Li was chosen as deputy secretary of the party in Henan Province in 1998, and became party secretary of Liaoning Province in 2004.
He has impressed many by his efforts to revitalise Liaoning, an industrial province that has suffered following China's economic reforms.