China’s He Lifeng named to key post in Central Financial Commission

Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng attends a joint press conference following the 10th China-EU High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China September 25, 2023. REUTERS/Florence Lo/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

BEIJING, Nov 6 (Reuters) – A Chinese vice premier, He Lifeng, has been appointed head of the office of the Central Financial Commission (CFC), which is responsible for running day-to-day affairs of a new regulator tasked with overseeing a vast financial sector.

He was also appointed as party chief of a separate Central Financial Work Commission (CFWC), which has been set up to strengthen the ideological and political role of the party in China’s overall financial system.

The appointments, announced by the central bank’s Financial News publication, underscore how the ruling Communist Party has taken direct control of supervising the financial sector.

The appointments mean He will tackle local government debt and the downturn in the property sector, two crises that threaten financial stability and the long-term growth potential of the world’s second-largest economy.

China announced in March it would set up the CFC under a broad restructuring of both party and government entities to tighten the party’s supervision of the industry.

The head of the CFC has yet to be named.

He, regarded as a confidant of President Xi Jinping, has been playing a prominent role in handling financial, economic and trade issues since being named a vice premier in a cabinet reshuffle in March.

He has also been appointed director of a key ruling Communist Party economic body, the Central Finance and Economic Affairs Commission, replacing Liu He.

Last week, state media reported that the Communist Party would step up its leadership of the finance industry and strengthen efforts to reduce local government debt risks, citing a twice-a-decade financial policy meeting that was held on Oct. 30-31.

The CFWC would “comprehensively strengthen the party’s leadership over financial work” and strive to “promote strong financial supervision”, according to a summary of a CFWC meeting last week.

An economist who studied finance at Xiamen University from 1978 to 1984, He obtained a doctorate in economics in 1998, when he was the party chief of Quanzhou city in Fujian province. read more

He’s relationship with Xi dates back four decades. He first worked under Xi in the coastal city of Xiamen and later in the northern municipality of Tianjin.

In 2014, He was named vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, the state planning agency, before taking full control in 2017. Since then, He has joined Xi on domestic tours, in diplomatic meetings and at other engagements.

Reporting by Ziyi Tang, Kevin Yao and Ryan Woo; Editing by Edwina Gibbs, Robert Birsel

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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