BEIJING (AFP) – China retained its central bank chief in a surprise move yesterday, as the country appointed a Cabinet focussed on fighting economic headwinds.
Yi Gang (AP pic; below) was confirmed as governor of the People’s Bank of China at a meeting of China’s rubber-stamp national legislature, against expectations that retirement-age Yi would step down.
Two top economic officials – Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and Finance Minister Liu Kun – were also retained, as well as National Health Commission Director Ma Xiaowei, who oversaw China’s zero-COVID policy. The Cabinet faces the task of revitalising the Chinese economy, which last year expanded just three per cent – one of its weakest performances in decades.
General Li Shangfu, who was sanctioned by the United States (US) government in 2018 for buying Russian weapons, was named defence minister.
US-China tensions have worsened in recent weeks, exacerbated by the entry of an alleged Chinese spy balloon into US airspace and accusations that Beijing might supply Moscow with weapons to use against Ukraine.
President Xi Jinping slammed the US this week for leading an effort of “containment, encirclement and suppression of China”.
Li’s appointment is “a deliberate pushback against US sanctions”, said Manoj Kewalramani, China expert at the Takshashila Institution in Bengaluru, India.