China finance veteran Zhu set to head central bank- sources
BEIJING, Feb 23 (Reuters) - A career banker and head of a state-run financial conglomerate, Zhu Hexin, is likely to become governor of China's central bank after next month's annual session of parliament, according to people familiar with the matter.
The news was first reported on Thursday by the Wall Street Journal, which also said He Lifeng, head of China's state planning agency and a longtime confidant of President Xi Jinping, is likely to become the central bank's Communist Party chief.
He's party role would be in addition to his expected appointment as vice premier in charge of the economy, the Journal reported, a position he had been widely expected to take over from Vice Premier Liu He, who is set to retire.
The People's Bank of China and the State Council Information Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
If confirmed, the 54-year-old Zhu would replace Yi Gang, who has been expected to retire during next month's leadership reshuffle after he was dropped from an elite body of the ruling Communist Party at its once-in-five years congress in October.
Unlike his predecessor, Yi does not hold the top party post at the central bank, a role held by Guo Shuqing, China's top banking regulator, who is also set to retire.
The looming retirements of Yi, Guo, Liu and Premier Li Keqiang, which became clear at the October party congress, have been perceived by leadership-watchers as heralding the end of a generation of more reform-minded officials as Xi tightened his grip on power.
Zhu is chairman of financial conglomerate Citic Group Corp (CITIC.UL) and has previously held senior posts at state lenders Bank of Communications and Bank of China. An engineering graduate of the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Zhu has also been a vice president in the central bank, and vice governor of Sichuan province in southwestern China.
In addition to those changes, the Communist Party was also planning to resurrect its Central Financial Work Commission, a policy-setting body that operated between 1998 and 2003, the Journal said, citing sources.
China's annual parliamentary session, set to begin on March 5, comes as policymakers are under pressure to revive an economy, the world's second-largest, battered by three years of heavy COVID-19 curbs.
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