Japan Confirms Meeting Central Banker Zhou Amid Speculation He Left China

Japan’s financial regulator confirmed that its chief met with Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan in Beijing yesterday amid speculation the head of the People’s Bank of China had left the country.

Financial Services Minister Shozaburo Jimi met with Zhou yesterday, said Toshiharu Mashita, public relations director at Japan’s Financial Services Agency.

Japan’s comment follows speculation on Chinese websites earlier this week that Zhou had left the country for the U.S. over losses in China’s holdings of U.S. Treasury securities. Stratfor, an Austin, Texas-based risk analysis group, said in a posting on its website yesterday there were “rumors” Zhou had left the country and that the Chinese government may punish some PBOC officials, including Zhou, for losses of about $430 billion on the assets.

A Chinese central bank official, who refused to be identified by name because of the agency’s rules, declined to comment.

The People’s Bank of China posted a photograph of Zhou meeting Jimi on its website yesterday. Another picture of the Chinese central banker yesterday meeting former Italian Finance Minister Tommaso Padoa Schioppa was also posted on the website.

Paola Paderni, a spokeswoman for the Italian Embassy in Beijing, said she couldn’t confirm the meeting as it wasn’t arranged through the embassy.

Two unidentified U.S. government officials said Zhou was not in U.S. custody, the Washington Post reported on its website. Stratfor said in a posting today that Zhou hadn’t left China for the U.S., without identifying the source of its information.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shingo Kawamoto in Tokyo at skawamoto2@bloomberg.net;

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