Who’ll be the next boss of China’s central bank? That’s just what the governor wants to know
Zhou Xiaochuan is set to retire from the People’s Bank of China ‘soon’ – but if he knows who’ll replace him, he’s not letting on
China’s central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan turned the tables on reporters on Thursday when asked who might replace him when he steps down after 15 years in charge.
“Who do you think?” the 69-year-old replied with a smile.
The veteran banker is expected to announce his retirement soon, bringing to an end a long and illustrious career at the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).
Since taking office in late 2002, Zhou has helped to steer China’s financial reforms and monetary policy, and in doing so has become one of the most influential economic figures in the world.
In that time he has worked with three chairs of the United States’ Federal Reserve, namely Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke and incumbent Janet Yellen, whose own four-year term ends in February.
As China continues to raise its profile on the global stage and push for greater use of the yuan, Zhou’s successor will have big shoes to fill. But who that person might be remains a closely guarded secret.
One possible candidate is Jiang Chaoliang, party secretary of central China’s Hubei province. His credentials include working as an assistant to Dai Xianglong, Zhou’s predecessor at the central bank, as chairman of the Bank of Communications – the country’s fifth-biggest lender – and as vice-chairman of China Development Bank.
However, when asked by the South China Morning Post if he was in the running to succeed Zhou, Jiang said: “I am the party secretary of Hubei. If you want to ask anything about finance, please ask the finance people.”
In the room where the finance delegation congregated on Thursday morning, Zhou was seen sitting with Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, who has also been touted as a future PBOC chief.
But as the speculation mounts as to who might take over at the central bank, all that is known for certain is that Zhou will soon be stepping down.
After years of false rumours about his pending departure, when asked by Reuters on Thursday when he would leave he said: “Soon”.