[Voice of Hope November 7, 2023](Comprehensive report by our reporter Yang Zheng) He Lifeng, Vice Premier of the Communist Party of China, has recently been awarded a number of important positions one after another, and has been dubbed by foreign media as the new “economic czar” of the Communist Party of China, who is “less than one person and more than ten thousand people”. This also means that Chinese Premier Li Qiang is as marginalized as his predecessor Li Keqiang.
The Financial Times, the official media of the Central Bank of China, reported on November 6 that on November 3, the Central Financial Working Committee held a meeting on the relevant contents of the Central Financial Working Conference. He Lifeng spoke for the first time as Director of the Office of the Central Financial Commission and Secretary of the Central Financial Working Committee.
In March this year, the Beijing authorities announced a comprehensive reorganization of the financial supervision system, reorganizing the Central Financial Commission and no longer retaining the Financial Stability and Development Committee of the State Council of the Communist Party of China. The Financial Working Committee of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was established to strengthen the Party’s control over the financial industry. The two agencies work together and formulate policies at a higher level than the central bank.
Taiwan’s Chief Economist Wu Jialong recently told NTDTV: “Now the People’s Bank of China, the Ministry of Finance, and other related units are under the jurisdiction of the newly appointed He Lifeng, which means that we must keep a tight grip on the money bag.”
In addition, at the end of October, He Lifeng officially served as director of the Office of the Central Financial and Economic Commission of the Communist Party of China (China Finance Office), taking over from the retired Liu He. Voice of America reported that He Lifeng has become the top leader of the CCP’s financial and economic core staff and has become the new “economic czar” that Chinese President Xi Jinping relies heavily on. He will lead the Beijing government’s formulation of major economic and financial policies in the future. According to reports, He Lifeng’s position is so high that he is already lower than one person and higher than ten thousand people. Obviously, in the eyes of foreign media, He Lifeng has completely lost the position of his immediate boss, Prime Minister Li Qiang, above He Lifeng.
Li Keqiang, the incoming Premier of the Communist Party of China, was accused of being a weak premier. The most important economic and trade negotiations between the United States and China at that time were led by Liu He, the then Deputy Prime Minister. Although Li Keqiang could occasionally speak out about domestic economic policies, he had little influence. Now that He Lifeng has become the leader of U.S.-China economic and trade negotiations, Li Qiang is probably not as good as Li Keqiang in terms of domestic economic policies and does not even have the right to express his own ideas. At his first press conference after taking office as Prime Minister, Li Qiang said, “The work of the new government is to implement the decisions and arrangements of the Party Central Committee well and turn the grand blueprint drawn up by the 20th National Congress of the Party into construction drawings. ”, in other words, it positions the State Council as the executor of Xi Jinping’s will.
Although He Lifeng holds a high position of authority, some observers point out that he is neither Xi Jinping’s economic adviser nor China’s economic czar, because He Lifeng, who is affiliated with Xi Jinping’s “Fujian Gang”, relied on “nepotism” to get to the position and was merely installed. to implement Xi Jinping’s left-leaning economic line.
Xu Chenggang, a senior researcher at the Center for Chinese Economics and Institutions at Stanford University in California, USA, told VOA, “The only economic czar in China is Xi Jinping. He is the czar in all aspects. He is the only one. China actually has a financial crisis. Fiscal crisis, economic crisis. If he (Xi Jinping) handles it improperly, it will break out. The chance is not very small. No matter whether he handles it or who handles it, serious consequences will occur if he handles it improperly.”
A Chinese economics professor in New York who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue also said that He Lifeng, a bureaucrat with a background, has only implemented policies entrusted by the chief executive since he took office in the Xiamen Municipal Government. Now he has relied on “nepotism” to gain control of the central government. The Ministry of Finance and Economics, even if there are economic majors, does not have the “guts” to deviate from Xi Jinping’s line.
Huang Jianqun, director of the mainland branch of the Federation of Taiwan Industries in Taipei, had brief contact with He Lifeng, then deputy secretary of the Tianjin Municipal Party Committee, in Tianjin Binhai New Area. He said that He Lifeng’s official style has always been to “step by step, follow the leadership, and make no mistakes as a principle.”
He Lifeng, 68, is a native of Xingning, Guangdong. He went to Fujian to work in 1973, starting as an educated youth on a farm and a worker at a hydroelectric power plant. After passing the college entrance examination, he entered Xiamen University and completed a bachelor’s degree in finance, a master’s degree in finance and a doctorate in economics. .
After He Lifeng graduated with a master’s degree in 1984, he was assigned to work at the Xiamen Special Economic Zone Economic Research Institute. In October 1984, he was transferred to the Xiamen Municipal Government and started his career in politics. The following year, Xi Jinping became the deputy mayor of Xiamen. Since then, with Xi Jinping’s promotion, He Lifeng has also been promoted from an office cadre of the Xiamen Municipal Government to the positions of deputy mayor of Xiamen, mayor of Quanzhou, and member of the Standing Committee of Fujian Province.
In May 2009, He Lifeng served as deputy secretary of the Tianjin Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, secretary of the Binhai New Area Working Committee, director of the Management Committee, secretary of the Party Leadership Group and secretary of the Tanggu District Committee, becoming the deputy to Zhang Gaoli, then secretary of the Tianjin Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China. In January 2013, he became chairman of the Tianjin Municipal People’s Political Consultative Conference and was promoted to ministerial level.
In June 2014, He Lifeng came to Beijing and successively served as deputy director and director of the National Development and Reform Commission of the Communist Party of China, and vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. At the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2022, he was appointed Vice Premier of the State Council (ranked second).
The New York Times said that for many years, almost no one in the political arena of the Chinese Communist Party has been closer to Xi Jinping than He Lifeng. When Xi Jinping appears in public, He Lifeng can always be seen standing a few steps behind Xi Jinping in official photos.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Communist Party of China announced on the 6th that at the invitation of US Treasury Secretary Yellen, He Lifeng, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Vice Premier of the State Council, and leader of the Chinese side of China-US economic and trade, will visit the United States from November 8 to 12.
The U.S. Treasury Department said on the same day that Yellen and Ho Lifeng will hold a two-day meeting from the 9th to the 10th.
Yellen had already met with Ho Lifeng during her visit to China in July, when the two tried to stabilize deteriorating U.S.-China relations as the United States tightened export restrictions on sensitive technologies to China.
Reuters reported that a senior U.S. Treasury Department official did not emphasize that the meeting between Yellen and Ho Lifeng must produce any specific “results” because it is not a “barter” “policy transaction.”
However, the official pointed out that Yellen’s purpose is to understand how the new economic communication channel between the United States and China will operate and how to ensure that the communication channel will not be “interrupted.” Yellen also hopes that there will be closer communication between the two countries.
Reuters quoted the official as saying that Yellen also hopes to discuss with Chinese officials what kind of revitalization plans the Chinese government is considering to boost economic growth, and also hopes to understand under what circumstances the Chinese Communist Party may change its policy path. .
“This week I will share with my counterparts our serious concerns about Beijing’s unfair economic practices, including their massive use of non-market instruments, barriers to market access, and coercive actions against U.S. companies in China,” Yellen said in an article published on the Washington Post Op-Ed page.
Editor in charge: Lin Li
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