Chinese graft-buster ‘front runner’ to head insurance watchdog

Wang Qishan associate Yang Xiaochao tipped to replace former CIRC chairman Xiang Junbo, who is under investigation for graft

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 July, 2017, 11:56pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 July, 2017, 11:56pm

Beijing is likely to name a senior Communist Party graft-buster to oversee the insurance sector, people familiar with the matter said, a signal that the country’s ongoing crackdown on irregular business practices in the financial industry may be set to escalate.

Yang Xiaochao, secretary general of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), was the leading candidate to head the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The top CIRC job has been vacant since April, when former chairman Xiang Junbo was put under investigation for suspected “serious disciplinary violations”, a phrase that usually refers to graft.

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Yang, 58, is an associate of Wang Qishan, the head of the party’s CCDI, the country’s main anti-graft body. Wang is also a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the country’s top leadership body.

Yang, a native of the eastern city of Nanjing, headed the Beijing financial affairs bureau from 2008 to 2013, and was the city’s top auditor when Wang was mayor of Beijing. Yang was named the city’s vice-mayor in 2013.

Two of the sources described Yang as the “front runner” to head the insurance regulator.

The CCDI did not respond to a faxed request for comment.

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Neither the CIRC nor the State Council Information Office, which doubles as the spokesman’s office for the cabinet and the party, replied to faxed requests for comment.

Yang’s appointment is not yet guaranteed. Senior leadership appointments in China can be subject to last-minute change.

It was not immediately clear when an announcement would be made.

None of the sources was willing to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.