BEIJING • China has appointed a new head for its top economic planning agency and a new commerce minister as part of a reshuffle ahead of a crucial Chinese Communist Party meeting later this year.
Mr He Lifeng, vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), has been tapped to lead the commission, state news agency Xinhua said yesterday on its official microblog, citing a decision by the National People's Congress Standing Committee, replacing Mr Xu Shaoshi, who has reached retirement age.
Mr Zhong Shan, previously vice-minister of commerce, has been named the new head of the Ministry of Commerce, the ministry said on its website, taking over from Mr Gao Hucheng.
Mr Zhong was previously also China's international trade representative, responsible for trade negotiations, and held official positions in Zhejiang province when Chinese President Xi Jinping served as governor and party boss of the province from 2002 to 2007.
Beijing is struggling to cope with weak global demand and faces risks from growing trade protectionism in the United States as the Trump administration shows an aversion to globalisation, which has benefited China hugely.
In an interview with Reuters, President Donald Trump declared China the "grand champions" of currency manipulation on Thursday, just hours after his new treasury secretary pledged a more methodical approach to analysing Beijing's foreign exchange practices.
The NDRC is tasked with overseeing the Chinese economy, regulating prices and approving major infrastructure projects. The once- powerful NDRC was dubbed a "super ministry" when China had a centrally planned economy, but has seen its influence erode as Beijing pushes for market-based reforms and deregulation.
Prior to joining NDRC, Mr He, 62, worked for other agencies in China's northern city of Tianjin and south-eastern Fujian. He is expected to push supply-side reforms and spearhead a drive to cut excess capacity in the steel and coal sectors.
Both Mr Xu and Mr Gao have reached the mandatory retirement age of 65 for a Chinese Cabinet minister.
Mr Guo Shuqing, governor of eastern Shandong province, will soon be appointed as head of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, financial magazine Caixin reported on Thursday on its website, citing sources familiar with the matter.
But cnstock.com, a Shanghai- based stock market news site, yesterday said Mr Guo has already been named chairman of China's banking regulator, citing an unnamed source.
The 19th Party Congress, expected to be held in the autumn, will see President Xi looking to further cement his grip on power.
Chinese officials have pledged to maintain stable economic growth this year to ensure a successful party meeting.