EXECUTIVE Vice-Premier Zhu Rongji is stepping down as Governor of the People's Bank of China next month, a sign that the economic tsar has to share his powers with other rising leaders. Bank sources said yesterday this would not immediately change Beijing's tight monetary policy, but Mr Zhu's successor would face immense pressure to free up credit later this year. Other financial sources in the capital said a likely replacement for Mr Zhu, 66, was Vice-Governor Dai Xianglong, 51. The National People's Congress is expected to vote on the resignation and the appointment of his successor after July 1. The People's Bank and the congress yesterday declined to comment. But a senior researcher at the bank's main think-tank, the Institute of Finance, confirmed Mr Zhu would be stepping down soon. Political analysts in Beijing said Mr Zhu would keep his more important titles of Politburo Standing Committee member and Executive Vice-Premier. They said while Mr Zhu would remain the most important economic cadre, he would have to share power with the fast-rising proteges of President Jiang Zemin, such as the new Vice-Premier, Wu Bangguo. In the spring, Mr Wu joined Mr Zhu as a Vice-Chief of the Central Committee's Leading Group on Finance and Economics, the nation's highest economic decision-making body. It is headed by Mr Jiang. One source said Mr Zhu had not been able to install his own proteges in top positions. The source said Mr Zhu had also been given the task of tackling economic problems such as hyper-inflation, falling grain yields and the runaway losses of state enterprises. Also, Mr Zhu's main patron, Deng Xiaoping, is too sick to bail him out. The former Shanghai mayor has also alienated many regional cadres, state entrepreneurs and army businessmen because of the tight monetary policy. But party sources said Mr Jiang still needed Mr Zhu's skills as an economic troubleshooter. They said the President had given him credit for bringing discipline to the banking and monetary sectors in 1993 and 1994, and cracking down on the spate of financial scandals. 'I don't expect monetary policy to be affected very much,' said Joan Zheng, China economist with Baring Securities Limited in Hong Kong. The analysts pointed out that pressure to soften the policy was overwhelming. 'There's growing pressure over rising unemployment,' said Chen Xingdong, chief economist for Crosby Securities Ltd in Beijing. 'We're expecting looser credit in the third quarter.'