Securities regulator denies plan to quit
Allen T. Cheng
Laura Cha Shih May-lung, vice-chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and a former top Hong Kong securities regulator, denies she is leaving her post and returning to the special administrative region.
Hired personally by Premier Zhu Rongji in March 2001, Ms Cha has been cleaning up China's unruly securities markets for the past two years. However, rumours spread recently in the mainland's media that she would leave the post because she no longer had the support of the incoming commission chairman and was considering returning to head the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
'She has denied that she is leaving,' said Li Xiaohong, Ms Cha's personal assistant. 'She isn't leaving and this isn't worth talking about any more.'
It had been speculated that new commission chairman Shang Fulin, who is known to be far more conservative than his predecessor, Zhou Xiaochuan, wanted to replace Ms Cha and the three other vice-chairmen with his own people. Xinhua reported on January 2 that her fellow vice-chairman, market reformer Gao Xiqing, was removed from his post.
Mr Shang is moving to the commission from the Agricultural Bank of China, where he was known to be a cautious manager. Mr Zhou, the new head of the People's Bank of China, has been taking heat recently for his aggressive tactics to clean up China's stock markets.
Many have also blamed Ms Cha for over-enforcing securities regulations and causing the market to collapse during the past 18 months.
'It's hard to say she's done a good job,' said Zhang Jiuhui, a senior manager at Beijing Securities. 'She's pushed for a systematic clean up of the stock markets. This is a good thing, but some people feel that her aggressive behaviour isn't appropriate to China's current market conditions.'
Ms Cha has in the past defended her efforts to wipe out insider trading and false reporting of profits among publicly listed companies, saying she was not responsible for China's declining share prices.