China plans to name a new central bank chief on Monday in a move that signals Beijing will continue with an ambitious — and, some say, much needed — financial shake-up undertaken by the bank’s current governor, two people familiar with the decision said.
Yi Gang, the American-educated economist, is set to succeed Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank’s governor for more than 15 years. The choice of Mr. Yi, a protégé and deputy of Mr. Zhou, almost guarantees continuity in policy as China tries to slow its rise in debt while avoiding any sharp deceleration in economic growth.
Yet Mr. Yi is almost certain not to carry the same clout, at least in the initial years of his tenure, that has long been wielded by his predecessor, an important architect of China’s considerable yet incomplete transition from central planning to a market-oriented economy.
That is because Mr. Yi will have a boss with an equally deep background in economics and a strong political backing: Liu He, a longtime economic adviser to President Xi Jinping, who joined the Politburo in October.
Mr. Liu is widely expected to be named on Monday one of China’s four vice premiers, with particular responsibility for overseeing the financial sector and industrial policy. That vice premier post is not new. But the man who has held the job for the past five years, Ma Kai, is a longtime central planner who appeared to spend most of his time as vice premier on issues involving state-owned enterprises.
In financial policy, “one thing that is very clear is that Liu He will play a more important role than Ma Kai” did, said Jianguang Shen, an economist in the Hong Kong office of Mizuho Securities, a Japanese investment banking and securities firm.