Reshuffle in China: China’s central bank chief to resign

© Stocksak. FILE PHOTO – Yi Gang, Governor of People’s Bank of China, attends a news conference about China’s economic growth ahead of the 70th anniversary of their founding, in Beijing, China, September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Florence Lo

By Kevin Yao, Xie Yu

BEIJING/HONG KING (Stocksak), China’s central bank chief Yi Gang will likely resign after he was dismissed from an elite body within the ruling Communist Party. A former central banker is a strong contender to replace him, sources close the central bank said.

Yi, 64 years old, is close to reaching the official retirement age of 65 for ministers-level officials. This has prompted intense speculation. Some policy experts and advisers suggested Yi’s tenure could be extended, just as Zhou Xiaochuan, his predecessor.

Yi is one of many pro-reform party leaders not named on Saturday as full members or alternate members to the party’s new Central Committee. Excluded were Li Keqiang (67), Liu He (70), and Guo Shuqing (66), who are both outgoing Premiers.

The changes made at the end the twice-a decade party congress were among the moves that cemented Xi Jinping’s iron grip on power. They also appeared to be consolidating control over people close to Xi.

A policy insider said that Yi’s departure seemed inevitable. “The party congress is nearly empty of the pro-reform camp.”

Yi was an alternate member of the previous Central Committee. Sources say that his exclusion from the Central Committee lists means that he is almost certain not to step down at March’s annual parliament meeting.

The People’s Bank of China didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment.

The PBOC is attempting to support the COVID-ravaged economies while avoiding aggressive loosening. This could lead to capital flight.

Sources close to the central banking said that Yi is likely to be replaced by Yin Yong. Yin Yong was the deputy party chief in Beijing and served as a deputy governor of the central bank from 2016-2018.

53-year old Yin was elected to the Central Committee as a full member during the party congress.

According to a source close the PBOC, Yi Gang will likely be replaced by Yang Yong,” the source spoke under anonymity.

Other sources said that Yin was well-placed to replace Yi due to his status as a rising star, his experience at the central banks, the foreign exchange regulator, and the Beijing government.

Yi is the PBOC governor and has been since 2018. He is also one of China’s highest-ranking sea turtles – a term that refers to Chinese who have returned from overseas. He holds a doctorate of economics from the University of Illinois.

The PBOC has been reorganizing the top management team over the past few weeks. Xuan Changneng was appointed deputy central bank Governor on Thursday.

China is facing the largest overhaul of its economic leadership since a decade. A new generation of reform-minded policymakers will be leaving amid worsening growth prospects.

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