Li came to prominence as party chief in the rust belt province of Liaoning, in China's hardscrabble Northeast, having worked his way up in the Communist Youth League, the power base of current President Hu Jintao, whose protégé he is.
Li has been a highflier since he won a place at the prestigious Peking University Law School in 1977, when universities reopened after the Cultural Revolution. His friends there included a number of student activists who were later jailed or exiled for their role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
Li speaks English, unusual for a Chinese leader.
Wang Qishan: 'media friendly'
Currently a deputy premier in charge of finance and trade, Wang Qishan comes from a banking background. He made friends with former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who called him "decisive and inquisitive" with "a wicked sense of humor."
Mr. Wang earned his reputation as a coolheaded can-do leader as mayor of Beijing in 2003 after a botched government coverup of the SARS outbreak. His frankness impressed both ordinary Beijingers and foreign officials. He enhanced his image of competence when he successfully managed the biggest debt restructuring in China's history.
As mayor of Beijing, Wang was in charge of overall preparations in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games, which were seen as China's "coming out party" for the world and widely praised as an enormous success.
Wang is among the most media-friendly of China's leaders. He seemed at ease during a long interview with PBS's Charlie Rose last year, an appearance few of his peers would have dared to make.
Wang Yang: 'the rarity'