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China appoints Lan Fo'an as new finance minister in latest administrative shake-up

Lan's appointment as finance minister comes with the removal of Li Shangfu as defence minister following his disappearance for over two months. The disappearances of Li and ex-foreign minister Qin Gang have raised questions of Xi Jinping's governance over his party.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Beijing Published on: October 24, 2023 20:41 IST
China's newly-appointed finance minister Lan Fo'an.
Image Source : X China's newly-appointed finance minister Lan Fo'an.

In its latest administration shake-up, China on Tuesday appointed Lan Fo'an as the country's new finance minister at the sixth session of the Standing Committee of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC), following the removal of Li Shangfu as Defence Minister.

According to Xinhua news agency, Lan was appointed finance minister, succeeding Liu Kun, while Yin Hejun was appointed as minister of science and technology. Meanwhile, Li was removed from the post of defence minister following his disappearance for over two months and former foreign minister Qin Gang was removed as state councillor.

At the session, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed orders to promulgate the laws and effectuate the decision. Liu Shaoyun was appointed as head of the military court of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), replacing Li.

Who is Lan Fo'an?

The 61-year-old Lan Fo'an was named the Communist Party chief at the finance ministry last month after serving as the party chief of the Shanxi province, according to Nikkei Asia. His appointment comes as China hopes to revive its deteriorating economy, as it increased fiscal stimulus.

He began his career at the finance department of the southern Guangdong province in 1985, after graduating from the Hubei University of Finance and Economics, and became a vice provincial chief in 2016. He transferred to Shanxi in 2021, as the province's vice party chief, before becoming the party chief in December 2022.

His predecessor, Liu Kun, had served as China's finance minister since 2018 but surpassed the official retirement age of 65 for ministers. He will turn 67 this year.

As the new finance minister, Lan's first priority would be to tackle China's increasing debt crisis. According to China's trade data, the country's economy has slowed down by 4.9 percent due to muted global demand, deflationary pressures and an ailing property sector. The previous quarter witnessed a growth of 6.3 percent. 

Earlier this year, growth was boosted as people flocked to shopping malls and restaurants after nearly three years of “zero-COVID” restrictions were removed in late 2022. However, growth from the post-pandemic recovery fizzled out sooner than expected.

Disappearance of Li Shangfu

Li Shangfu was removed as both state councilor and Defence Minister on Tuesday. Notably, Li was last seen giving a speech on August 29 and has not been seen since. There is no indication that the disappearances of Li and Qin signal a change in China's foreign or defense policies, although they have raised questions about the resilience of President Xi Jinping's power.

Li is believed to be a close confidante of Xi and his absence from a meeting with senior Vietnamese defence officials on September 7 and 8 heightened speculations over his disappearance. 

Earlier, the US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel questioned whether the Communist regime had placed him under house arrest, adding that he had not been for the past three weeks and was also absent from his scheduled trip to Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel questioned whether the Communist regime had placed him under house arrest, adding that he had not been for the past three weeks and was also absent from his scheduled trip to Vietnam.

Earlier, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, a close aide of the President, who is known for his skewering one-liners and punchlines wrapped in metaphors while defending his government, has abruptly disappeared from the public since June 25. He has now lost his last remaining title in the Chinese cabinet.

(with input from agencies)

ALSO READ | China removes Li Shangfu as Defence Minister after missing for two months without explanation

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