x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Key players for team China economy

As Xi Jinping becomes head of the Communist Party, he and several other senior leaders will be key in shaping China's economic future.

As Xi Jinping becomes head of the Communist Party, he and several other senior leaders will be key in shaping China's economic future.

Xi Jinping

Has been given a significant amount of political muscle through his appointment as general secretary of the Communist Party and head of the central military commission, so the question is where he stands on the economy and whether he will be a reformer.

A "princeling" whose father was deputy prime minister, Mr Xi lived through the Cultural Revolution and studied chemical engineering at Tsinghua University and later gained a degree in Marxist theory and a doctorate in law. Periods as provincial party chief in the coastal provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang have allowed him to closely witness economic reform in action. Some inner-circle members are bullish on the reform outlook. Li Jiange, the chairman of China's biggest investment bank, China International Capital, and a vice chairman of the state-owned Central Huijin Investment, believes Mr Xi will probably unveil new market-orientated changes late next year.

The reforms will focus on reducing government intervention in the economy and breaking up state monopolies.

Li Keqiang

The vice premier is expected to take over from Wen Jiabao as premier in March, and will thus be the main face of economic policy in China.

The son of a local cadre, Mr Li rose to prominence after studying law at Peking University. In a key development this year, Mr Li reportedly endorsed a report entitled China 2030, published in February, which was a collaboration between the Development Research Centre and the World Bank. The report contained policies aimed at keeping growth on track while avoiding the "middle-income trap" and failing to introduce reforms to create a wealthy middle class. The report also called for restructuring of state-owned enterprises, banks, land, labour and financial markets, to promote competition and trim back government influence on the economy.

Wang Qishan

Another princeling, the former mayor of Beijing has previously worked in the financial sector as the head of the state-owned China Construction Bank and has been elected to head up the fight against corruption. Some say this is because he has no children who could benefit from his position.

As the figure who coordinated China's response to the financial crisis, and who led China in the US-China strategic economic dialogue, Mr Wang has excellent credentials in dealing with the economy and many analysts were disappointed that he seems to be moving away from this area.

Zhang Gaoli

The party chief of the northern port city of Tianjin, where he was worked to transform the city, Mr Zhang has been a politburo member since 2007 and is seen as a Jiang Zemin ally but also acceptable to Hu Jintao, China's outgoing leader. A trained economist, he has been party chief and governor of eastern Shandong province and vice governor of Guangdong.

Many commentators are hoping his "Tianjin Model" of development does not gain traction on a national level as it is heavily debt- and investment-based.