China appoints US-trained central banker

China appoints US-trained central banker

"Frankly speaking, (Yi's nomination is) a bit unexpected as he holds a relatively low political ranking as the alternative member of CPC Central Committee", said Tommy Xie, China economist at OCBC Bank in Singapore.

He had been the head of the General Office of the ruling Communist Party's Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs and a vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) - China's top economic planner.

Yi Gang, a former academic, will be China's new central banker, following in the footsteps of respected reformer Zhou Xiaochuan, who will retire at the end of the month.

Yi, a 20-year PBOC veteran, may to some extent operate in the shadow of Liu He, an ally of President Xi Jinping, who on Monday was given a broad role supervising the economy and financial sector and outranks him as a politburo member.

Mr. Yi talked about the need to liberalize China's capital account in order to encourage foreign firms to invest in China at a press conference last week. He added, "Compared to officials who do not have an overseas background in the PBOC, Yi has better knowledge of worldwide monetary policy".

Analysts say Yi will likely make financial risk prevention a key priority and step up regulations to cut debt from state-run companies and local governments.

Zhou lured Yi to join the PBOC in 1997, when Yi was a professor at Peking University.

Yi, 60, received his Ph.D. from the University of IL and taught at Indiana University.

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The People's Bank is widely seen as an advocate of conventional, market-oriented economics.

"He is an important symbol of monetary policy continuity", Yu said.

But he will also take over a bank with new powers.

It's possible that the pro-free market approach of Governor Yi and Vice Premier Liu could see the end of China's strict regulation of cryptocurrency as it becomes the obvious choice for global financing.

He was also the head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) from 2009 to 2016.

Zhou, 70, who is China's longest-running central bank head, having taken the job in 2002, is expected to retire soon.

Zhong Shan was re-elected as the commerce minister. Liu Kun, director in charge of budget matters for the NPC, will be the new finance minister.

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