17 Mar 2013

China reappoints central bank chief

1:12 pm on 17 March 2013

China has kept Zhou Xiaochuan on as governor of the central bank in a bid to speed up market-based reforms needed to sustain long-term growth and ensure policy continuity amid global uncertainties.

Mr Zhou took the helm of the People's Bank of China in 2002 and led the drive to liberalise interest rates and abolish the yuan's peg to the US dollar, a step along the path to turning it into a global currency.

China economist at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong, Ting Lu, said the reappointment signals the new leaders wish to continue China's unfinished financial reforms.

"We expect China's new government to further liberalise exchange rates, lift capital controls, liberalise interest rates, open up the banking sector and develop capital markets," he told Reuters.

China's parliament also appointed Lou Jiwei, former head of the nation's sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp, as finance minister on Saturday.

Mr Lou was a key architect of China's tax reforms in 1994 and will lead reforms to lower the tax burden on smaller firms, with more fundamental changes needed to wean local governments off their reliance on land sales for survival.

China's former land and resources minister, Xu Shaoshi, was named chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, the economic planning agency that wields approval authority over major investment projects.

Gao Hucheng was named commerce minister to oversee the country's vast export sector amid rising spats with trade partners.