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Enter Liu He, the man behind economic reform


Beijing (AsiaNews) – Just as the annual meeting of the Chinese parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), was about to conclude, China has chosen the economist Liu He, 66, as vice-premier. Thanks to his experience, he will probably face the economic and financial challenges of the country, together with a decisive openness and collaboration with the world of international finance.

Known as a protégé of Xi Jinping, Liu (center in the photo) has exerted a great influence on the economic and development policies of the country in the last 15 years. Last October he was included in the Politburo; in January he represented China at the meeting in Davos, where he promised economic reforms and open markets. In February he went to the United States to try to smooth tensions with the US, close to an economic war, reopening talks with Washington on bilateral economic relations.

After a military career, Liu graduated in economics from Renmin and in 1995 took a master’s degree in public administration at Harvard. He speaks fluent English and is rather shy in dealing with the public.

In several articles, Liu He shows that China risks being stagnated after an initial economic boom. For this reason he argues that the country, the government and the party should look more to transform the model of growth from one based on investments and exports of products, to one in which domestic consumption is promoted, through the improvement of the life of the population .

According to several experts, he is the “authoritative figure” who in May 2016 published a long article in the People’s Daily, warning about the consequences of excessive use of leverage to push the economy forward. He has condemned easy credit as the cause of all financial risks in the currency market, in the stock exchange, in the construction market and in banks.

The other three vice-premier, who will support Li Keqiang, reconfirmed as prime minister, are: Han Zhen, former Party secretary in Shanghai; Sun Chunlan, head of the United Front Department, Hu Chunhua, party secretary in Guangdong. Han is one of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the absolute apex of the Party; the others are members of the Politburo.

A nomination that arouses consensus in the country and in the world is that of Yi Gang as the new governor of the People’s Bank of China (Bpc). Yi, 60, has already worked for 20 years in the PBC and since 2008 has been vice-governor, under Zhou Xiaochuan, who was also eager to correct the method of easy credit for the economy.

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