China to open economy wider: Premier Li

Caixin learned from sources that Yi was described by a top Chinese leader as "an expert of the USA economy and financial system" at a recent internal meeting, a sign that his work at the central bank has been recognized by the country's leadership.

China's legislature on Monday nominated Yi Gang, vice-governor of the People's Bank of China, as its new chief.

Yi's appointment was announced on Monday at the ongoing session of the National People's Congress in Beijing.

While Mr Yi has a track record of implementing policy changes and currency reforms in recent years, he faces formidable challenges in reducing China's reliance on credit to fend off financial risks while keeping economic growth steady.

But Yi is not regarded as a heavyweight like his boss Zhou, and he may play a supportive role with Liu overseeing the economy and finance sector on the whole, some economists say.

Yi, 60, is well known to foreign investors and regulators as director of the Chinese State Administration of Foreign Exchange until 2016. He said past year that a lack of outside competition could lead to "laziness" in the financial sector.

As part of the shake-up, the PBOC was given the responsibility of drafting new laws and regulations for the banking and insurance sectors, and with it new authority over China's financial system.

He received Ph.D in Economics from University of IL before joining as assistant professor at the Indiana University.

Market access restrictions have been a top complaint from the U.S. and Europe which have repeatedly said their firms face major hurdles to doing business in China, including being forced to share their know-how and technology with local partners.

Before joining the bank in 1997, Yi taught at Indiana University.

Relations with the USA are also among the first challenges Yi and Liu are likely to face.

Yi will have a weighty first test - the US Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates on March 21, a day after China's annual parliament ends, and markets are keen to see if the PBOC follows with a modest move of its own.

Beijing is aiming to streamline regulators and ministries to cut inefficiencies while expanding the remit of the central bank to boost its policymaking powers.


Liu, who won a top Chinese economics study award in 2015 for his research on the global financial crisis, is widely seen as masterminding Xi's supply-side reforms which are cutting excess factory capacity and pivoting the economy away from low-value industries.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi adds a new, higher-ranking title of state councillor, raising his clout as he promotes China as a global power.

  • Rogelio Becker