People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan was named a vice chairman of the nation’s top government advisory body amid speculation his record tenure as central bank chief will be extended.
Zhou was among 23 people elected to the position on the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, according to results announced at a meeting in Beijing today. Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the Communist Party’s paramount Politburo Standing Committee, was named chairman.
The party plans to keep Zhou, 65, as head of the central bank, with the CPPCC vice chairman position allowing him to serve beyond retirement age, a person with direct knowledge of the discussions told Bloomberg News last month. The national legislature, which is also holding its annual meeting, will decide March 16 on positions including PBOC governor.
“There is some value in maintaining continuity at the top of the People’s Bank by having someone that is well-respected and experienced,” said Mark Williams, a former U.K. Treasury adviser on China who is now an economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in London.
Retaining Zhou would provide stability at a time when the central bank is grappling with sustaining an economic recovery while reining in inflation and credit. Zhou was omitted from the Communist Party’s new 205-member Central Committee in November, fueling speculation that he would step down as he approached retirement age. A Feb. 2 profile in the official China Securities Journal said Zhou, who took office in 2002, would retire this month.
Zhou’s election as a CPPCC vice chairman is a “recognition of his many years of work,” Li Daokui, a former academic adviser to the central bank, told reporters in Beijing today. The new role “shouldn’t have any negative impact” on Zhou’s job at the PBOC, Li said.
Williams said he hoped Zhou would continue to push forward liberalization of interest-rate policy and tackle risks in shadow banking while maintaining growth in China.
Other CPPCC vice chairmen include Chen Yuan, chairman of China Development Bank; Lu Zhangong, Communist Party secretary of Henan province, and Edmund Ho, former Macau chief executive.
The CPPCC advises the National People’s Congress, the country’s legislature, and has committees that handle issues including economic affairs, population, and ethnic and religious affairs.
Zhou was named last month as one of the 2,237 members of the CPPCC’s National Committee. Other members include Mo Yan, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, and retired Houston Rockets basketball player Yao Ming.