Position: People’s Bank of China Governor
Incumbent: Zhou Xiaochuan, 62
Term: Appointed December 2002. Now serving a second and final five-year term.
— Fluent in English, Zhou enjoys a high profile abroad but is much less powerful than most of his counterparts in the West because the People’s Bank of China does not have the independence to decide monetary or foreign exchange policy. The State Council, China’s cabinet, has the final word on these issues.
— An engineer by training, Zhou brought rich experience in finance and economics to the central bank. As head of the China Securities Regulatory Commission from February 2000, he emphasized the role of market mechanisms, cut through red tape governing listed companies and took measures to protect retail investors.
— Zhou was governor of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the currency regulator and manager of the central bank’s reserves, from 1995 until 1998, when he was transferred to run China Construction Bank, the country’s second-biggest lender.
— It wasn’t Zhou’s first stint at a big state-owned bank. He was a senior executive at Bank of China from 1991 to 1995. Before that he was assistant minister in what is now the Ministry of Commerce.
— He graduated from the Beijing Chemical Engineering Institute in 1975 and received his PhD in engineering at Tsinghua University a decade later.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard, Langi Chiang and Aileen Wang; Editing by Paul Simao