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The state media’s unusually extensive coverage of Li Keqiang‘s European tour showed the vicepremier remains well positioned to succeed Wen Jiabao as premier despite rumours to the contrary, analysts said.

State broadcaster CCTV featured several lengthy and detailed reports on Li’s nine-day trip during its prime-time news programmes, while the overseas edition of People’s Daily published front-page updates on his meetings with European leaders.

China Daily similarly listed Li’s travels as “top news” for four days after the vice-premier’s departure on April 26 and prominently displayed photographs of events he attended.

Li (pictured) also made front pages in Hong Kong, where the Beijing-friendly Hong Kong Commercial Dailykept readers informed of the tour with headlines 10 days running.

The coverage sent a strong but subtle signal that Li is emerging as a figure of political stature. In an opinion piece published in the London-based Financial Times on the…

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