China central bank head likely to step down amid reshuffle

BEIJING/HONG KONG, Oct 22 (Reuters) – China’s central bank governor Yi Gang is set to step down after being ousted from an elite Communist Party body, with a former central banker as the leading candidate. to succeed him, sources close to told the central bank.

The possible early 2023 retirement of Yi, 64, has been the subject of intense speculation as he approaches the official retirement age of 65 for ministerial-level officials. Some experts and political advisers have suggested that Yi’s term could be extended, as was the case with his predecessor, Zhou Xiaochuan.

Yi is among pro-reform policymakers who were not named on Saturday as full or alternate members of the party’s new Central Committee. Also excluded were outgoing Prime Minister Li Keqiang, 67, economic czar Liu He, 70, and central bank party chief Guo Shuqing, 66.

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The changes at the end of the twice-a-decade party congress were among the moves that consolidated Xi Jinping’s iron grip on power and appeared to be consolidating control among those close to Xi.

“Yi’s departure seems inevitable,” a political source said. “The pro-reform camp is almost at the end of the party congress.”

Yi was an alternate on the previous Central Committee. His exclusion from the Central Committee’s new lists means he is almost certain to step down at Parliament’s annual meeting in March, sources said.

The People’s Bank of China did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The impending reshuffle comes as the PBOC seeks to shore up the COVID-ravaged economy while avoiding aggressive easing that could fuel capital flight as the Federal Reserve and other central banks raise interest rates to fight rising inflation.

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Yin Yong, deputy party chief in the capital Beijing, who served as central bank vice president from 2016 to 2018, is a leading candidate to replace Yi, sources close to the central bank said.

Yin, 53, who holds a doctorate in engineering from Tsinghua University and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University, was elected a full member of the Central Committee during the party’s congress.

“Yin Yong will likely replace Yi Gang,” said a source close to the PBOC who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Other sources described Yin as well positioned to replace Yi, given his rising star status and his previous experience at the central bank, currency regulator and Beijing government.

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Yi has been governor of the PBOC since 2018 and is one of China’s highest-ranking “sea turtles” – a term for Chinese returning from abroad. He has a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois.

The PBOC has been revamping its senior management team in recent weeks. Xuan Changneng was named vice president of the central bank on Thursday.

China faces the biggest overhaul of its economic leadership in a decade, with a generation of reformist policymakers set to step down amid worsening growth prospects.

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Reporting by Kevin Yao and Xie Yu; Editing by William Mallard

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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