Liu He, a senior economics official and close associate of President Xi Jinping, is one of the leading contenders to succeed Zhou Xiaochuan as the head of the People’s Bank of China according to sources speaking to Reuters.
Several sources said to Reuters that Harvard-trained Liu, who is one of Xi’s closest economic advisors, will take over as PBOC governor once 70-year old Zhou retires later this year after a record-long run as central bank head.
The South China Morning Post recently reported that Liu will be anointed as a vice-premier at the Two Meetings of the Chinese legislature in March.
Sources said to Reuters that Liu could hold the posts of both vice premier and central bank governor simultaneously, given the precedent set by former Premier Zhu Rongji in the early 1990’s.
Liu’s star has undergone a precipitous ascent since the 19th National Chinese Communist Party Congress in October and his election to the 25-member Politburo, which ranks just below the seven member Politburo Standing Committee in China’s political hierarchy.
The 66-year old Beijing native is a veteran of China’s economic policy circles, as well as an alumnus of Harvard’s Kennedy School and Seton Hall University in New Jersey.
Liu He drew international attention at the World Economic Forum in January, where his spruiking of Beijing’s pro-globalist credentials prompted the New York Times to refer to China as the “star at Davos.”
Speculation over who will succeed Zhou has been rife for months, with earlier reports pointing to head of the China Banking Regulatory Commission Guo Shuqing as the most likely contender.