China elects new economic team as President Xi kicks off second term

Published: March 19, 2018 11:27:32 | Updated: March 21, 2018 11:24:47

Newly elected Vice Premiers (L-R) Hu Chunhua, Han Zheng, Sun Chunlan, and Liu He take an oath to the constitution at the seventh plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on Monday - Reuters photo

China elevated a key confidante of President Xi Jinping to one of the top positions in government on Monday as Beijing cracks down on riskier financing and a debt to reduce systemic risks to the world’s second-largest economy.

The election of Liu He by parliament to be a vice premier also comes as the United States presses China to cut its trade surplus by $100 billion. Harvard-educated Liu, 66, was the most prominent envoy to visit Washington recently in a bid to prevent the outbreak of a trade war.

While most of the personnel changes on the economic team were widely anticipated, the choice of Yi Gang to take over as the new head of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) was unexpected, according to a Reuters report.

Yi is a vice governor of PBOC and a protege of outgoing chief Zhou Xiaochuan. His appointment is seen as pointing to continuity in monetary policy even as one of the world’s biggest central banks is gaining considerable new regulatory power.

The head of a newly merged banking and insurance regulator is expected to be announced on Monday. Reform-minded Guo Shuqing, 61, the current chair of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, is viewed as the top candidate to play that role.

The chief of a powerful new competition and food safety regulator will also be unveiled.

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