China’s finance minister Lou Jiwei was replaced on Monday, the official Xinhua news agency reported, in a switch of personnel at the top of the world’s second-largest economy.
Lou was relieved from his duty and replaced by 59-year-old Xiao Jie, the deputy secretary-general of China’s State Council, the cabinet, Xinhua reported, without giving more details. Lou, 65, has been the finance minister since March 2013, his official biography shows, presiding over a stock market boom encouraged by authorities, followed by a rout in the middle of last year. His successor, originally from the northeastern province of Liaoning, spent nearly two decades at the finance ministry and was appointed head of the State Administration of Taxation in 2007.
Lou, who is also on the board of governors of the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, has been one of best-known names representing China’s economic voice, alongside central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan. Last month he spoke out on behalf of the G20 against populist politicians playing up anti-globalisation and anti-free trade sentiments, saying they were putting the world economy at risk.
While not mentioning US presidential candidate Donald Trump or other politicians by name, he identified populism as one of the largest threats to the economy. “This trend of deep anti-globalisation populism has driven politicians to come up with their campaign slogans and try to win the votes and support. That has brought us uncertainty,” he said after a meeting in Washington of the G20, which brings together the world’s leading developed and developing economies. “We need to recognise some political risks such as the presidential election in some countries and in major economies,” he added during the IMF-World Bank annual meetings in Washington.
China also announced Monday the replacement of state security minister Geng Huichang with Chen Wenqing, 56, who was previously at the ruling Communist party’s internal anti-corruption watchdog, Xinhua said.