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Last updated: October 30, 2011 3:33 pm
China has fired the starting gun for sweeping changes over the next two years that will include the retirement of top political leaders, replacing its top banking, securities and insurance regulators at the weekend.
Nevertheless, the changes at the top of the country’s three key financial regulators are not expected to presage any immediate policy shifts, at a time when Beijing is battling to engineer a soft economic landing at home while simultaneously considering expanding its role in helping combat the global financial crisis overseas.
“It’s not like this is some kind of a shake-up,” said Patrick Chovanec, associate professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management in Beijing. “We will be seeing much more of this in months to come. It is part of a huge game of musical chairs over the next two years as officials hit retirement age and others move into the empty slots”.
A large number of officials will retire from Communist Party, state, military and regulatory jobs in the coming months, forced out as they hit the official retirement age.
The biggest change announced at the weekend was the decision to move Shang Fulin, 60, who previously headed the China Securities Regulatory Commission, to the top post at the China Banking Regulatory Commission.
At the CSRC, Mr Shang took cautious steps to introduce significant reforms to stock and futures markets despite considerable volatility in Chinese and global equity markets during his tenure.
Despite those concerns, Mr Shang oversaw important changes including the launch of a Nasdaq-style second board in China, the introduction of index futures and margin trading, and the unloading of a large overhang of previous untraceable shares in state companies. He also took significant steps toward the introduction of the long-awaited international board at the Shanghai stock exchange.
His replacement at the CSRC is Guo Shuqing, 55, who resigned on Friday as chairman of China Construction Bank. Unlike Mr Shang, Mr Guo is a fluent English speaker who spent a year as a visiting scholar at St Antony’s College, Oxford, according to the official People’s Daily.
The change in leadership at the CSRC is expected to lead to a slowdown in new initial public offerings as the new chief settles in, market analysts said, though they do not expect any major changes in broader policy.
Xiang Junbo, 54, who stepped down on Friday as chairman of Agricultural Bank of China, will take up the post of chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission.
The previous heads of the CBRC and CIRC had both reached the compulsory retirement age of 65 for officials who hold a rank equivalent to a cabinet minister.
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