By Benjamin Kang Lim
BEIJING Oct 28 China's top banking and
insurance regulators have reached retirement age, and a shakeup
is expected as early as this week, three independent sources
said, a step that would be the first major move in a sweeping
reshuffle of the Communist Party leadership that will culminate
Liu Mingkang, chairman of the China Banking Regulatory
Commission (CBRC), and Wu Dingfu, chairman of the China Insurance
Regulatory Commission (CIRC), have both reached the compulsory
retirement age of 65 for officials who hold a rank equivalent to
a cabinet minister.
Securities regulator Shang Fulin, 54, who has a reputation
for caution, is the front-runner to replace Liu as CBRC chairman,
said the sources, who requested anonymity because they are not
authorised to speak to reporters.
Earlier, other sources said Jiang Jianqing, 58, chairman of
the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's biggest
lender, was a candidate for the CBRC post. He's still viewed as a
Barring a last-minute change, China Construction Bank (CCB)
chairman Guo Shuqing, 55, is tipped to take Shang's place as the
chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC),
said the sources, one of whom has ties to the top leadership.
It was not clear who will take over the CCB post from
Oxford-educated Guo, who earlier was also considered a possible
central bank chief. CCB is the world's second-most valuable bank.
Xiang Junbo, 54, a war hero-turned-banker, is expected to
become the new CIRC chairman, the sources said. Xiang is
currently chairman of the Agricultural Bank of China, the
country's third-largest lender by assets.
The changes will mark the highest-profile personnel swaps to
be made as a part of a broad leadership turnover that will run
through the next 17 months and see China's President Hu Jintao
and Premier Wen Jiabao hand over power to a younger generation of
Hu and Wen are due to retire their Communist Party posts at
the 18th Congress next fall, and their presidency and premiership
positions at a parliament session in March 2013.
Age limits will force out older leaders from throughout the
Communist Party, local governments, military, and cabinet
ministries, making way for younger leaders to move up.
The final decision will be confirmed by the Communist Party's
Organisation Department, which is in charge of key personnel
moves for government and Party bodies, state-owned businesses,
and the military.
Spokespeople for the banking, securities and insurance
regulatory bodies declined to comment when reached by telephone.
CHALLENGES AHEAD FOR REGULATORS
China has pursued a busy financial regulatory reform agenda
over the years, easing controls over key sectors and prices, and
launching a fledgling offshore market for the yuan in Hong Kong.
There are plenty of challenges for the new regulators to
The CBRC must ensure banking system stability while potential
exposure to China's local government debt -- estimated at 10.7
trillion yuan ($1.7 trillion) -- is worked out.
Meanwhile, the central government wants to neutralise the
risks of a shadow banking system of business-to-business and high
interest-rate individual lending.
And the CSRC must manage the fallout from an accounting
scandal involving Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock
A raft of reforms across the financial sector remain in the
pipeline, but analysts say progress will begin to slow next year
as China prepares for the leadership reshuffle in late 2012.
(Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom and Nick Edwards
Editing by Don Durfee and Brian Rhoads)
Keywords: CHINA REGULATORS/RESHUFFLE
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