China has appointed a whole new set of top officials, including a Defence Minister, to head a revamped government, days after the President, Xi Jinping, began his second five-year tenure following the removal of the two-term limit.
The new line-up approved by the rubber-stamp Parliament, the National People’s Congress, includes four Vice-Premiers, Han Zheng, Sun Chunlan, Hu Chunhua and Liu He.
Their names were approved by nearly 3,000 deputies of the NPC after they were proposed by the Premier, Li Keqiang, who himself was re-appointed to the post under the new political setup headed by Xi.
Xi was re-elected last week for a second five-year term, days after the NPC ratified constitutional amendment, removing term limits for President and Vice-President. His close confidant and former anti-corruption chief, Wang Qishan, has been elected as the Vice President.
The Vice Premier, Liu He, is expected to play a bigger role in the management of the Chinese economy, the world’s second largest after the US.
While the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, has been elevated as the State Councillor which makes him a top diplomat holding dual posts, another key appointment from India’s point of view was that of the appointment of Lt Gen Wei Fenghe as the new Defence Minister.
Gen. Wei is widely regarded as the man behind the international face of China’s rapid military modernisation and its reorganisation. He played a key role in splitting the strategic missile force into two parts of the Rocket Force and the Strategic Support Force.
Chen Wenqing remains the security czar overseeing the internal security, including espionage and counterintelligence as well as counter-terrorism, especially in the volatile Xinjiang province.
Also, the Yi Gang, a reformist has been appointed as the new Governor of its central bank, the People’s Bank of China, marking the first change at its helm in 15 years. He will replace Zhou Xiaochuan who has headed the central bank for more than 15 years during which China has transitioned to become world’s second largest economy replacing Japan.
Yi was deputy to Zhou and was largely regarded as a reformist and head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange which oversees the country’s over USD 3 trillion forex reserves, the highest in the world.
The new appointments came as China unveiled a massive reshuffle plan of various ministries to make the government better-structured, more efficient and service-oriented, affecting more than two dozen ministries and organisations.
The new revamped administration will have 26 ministries and commissions of the State Council which is the central Cabinet. The new entities included ministry of natural resources, veterans’ affairs and emergency management. The plan includes merger of the Ministry of Culture and National Tourism Administration into one.
The sweeping changes include the merger of China’s banking and insurance regulators and the setting up of a special bureau to oversee immigration issues.