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China will likely name Xi Jinping’s much touted economic advisor Liu He as vice premier overseeing the economy and financial sector, Reuters scooped on Friday, citing five sources familiar with the matter.
The Harvard-trained Liu took center stage at the Davos World Economic Forum this week, where he suggested this will be a big year for China’s reform agenda.
“Some measures will exceed the expectations of the international community,” Liu was quoted by Bloomberg as saying Wednesday at in his speech in Davos. Though Liu did not specify what the new policies would be, he stressed that “opening up is not only important for China, but also for the whole world.”
The reform push, he said, is also a celebration of the 40 th anniversary of the nation’s shift away from a closed Communist system.
“He (Liu) is likely to take overall control of China’s economic policies and financial issues,” a source told Reuters, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Liu was elevated to the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo at the 19th Party Congress, widely seen at the time as primed to take on a major role in shaping economic reform.
As Asia Times reported last October, the economist’s close relationship with Xi Jinping goes all the way back to when the two were classmates at the elite Beijing 101 Middle School.
Liu, who has reportedly worked as a speech writer for Xi and former Chinese presidents, was cited by political analysts as a possible author of a seminal People’s Daily article in 2016 warning about the risks of China’s debt-driven growth model. He has been variously described as China’s economic “mastermind” and “the brain” behind the country’s economic reforms.