Caixin
Apr 02, 2021 08:24 PM
FINANCE

Update: Chongqing Vice Mayor Steps Down to Rejoin Central Bank

Li Bo, a financial veteran who spent 14 years at the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), will become a deputy governor of the central bank after spending about 18 months helping to lead the Southwest China municipality of Chongqing, Caixin has learned from knowledgeable sources.

The Chongqing legislature accepted Li’s resignation as vice mayor on Wednesday, according to an official statement (link in Chinese). Sources close to the matter said Li stepped down to accept the appointment as a deputy governor of the PBOC, although the central bank has yet to make an official announcement.

There have been rumors in the market that Li’s new PBOC appointment might be related to upcoming personnel changes at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Zhang Tao, a deputy managing director of the IMF, is set to step down when his five-year tenure ends in July, and it is common practice for China to find and recommend a replacement beforehand. However, any final decisions around the appointment are up to the IMF itself, as related parties are particularly cautious about the nomination amid the current international environment, some said.

Li, 48, a former director of the central bank’s monetary policy department, was named Chongqing’s vice mayor in September 2019 amid a wave of appointments of financiers to senior local government positions. The Chongqing-born official oversaw commerce, international trade, free trade zone pilot projects and local financial regulations in the city.

Chongqing is one of the four municipalities — along with Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai — which are regarded as provincial-level entities under the direct governance of the central government.

Li has considerable overseas experience. He has a doctorate in economics from Stanford University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. At Stanford, he was advised by famous economists Paul Milgrom and Kenneth Arrow. Li worked as a lawyer for U.S. law firm Davis Polk and Wardwell LLP before returning to China in 2004 and taking a position at the PBOC.

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During his years at the central bank, Li held senior posts and led the PBOC’s legal affairs and monetary policy departments. He helped draft key regulations on money laundering and credit reporting.

In August 2018, Li left the PBOC to become a vice chairman of the government-backed All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, and one year later he took on the vice mayor role in Chongqing.

Guo Yingzhe contributed to this report.

Contact reporters Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com) and Timmy Shen (hongmingshen@caixin.com) and editors Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com) and Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

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