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Senior financial regulator departs after China's stock market turmoil

Published 20/02/2016

Xiao Gang is stepping down as China's senior securities regulator (AP)
Xiao Gang is stepping down as China's senior securities regulator (AP)

China's senior securities regulator Xiao Gang will step down following months of turmoil in the country's stock markets that battered faith in Beijing's economic management.

The departure of Mr Xiao, a legal expert with decades of experience in the finance industry, may help assuage public anger at the dramatic boom and bust, but does not address the market's underlying problems.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that he would be replaced by Liu Shiyu, chairman of the Agriculture Bank of China and a former deputy governor of China's central bank. Mr Xiao was appointed in March 2013.

Fuelled by cheerleading in the state press after officials said Chinese stocks should rise, the Shanghai and Shenzhen markets vaulted from late 2014.

They reached a peak in June last year, then crumbled in several waves of panic selling that sent shockwaves around the world.

Officials prolonged the turmoil with draconian measures such as banning major shareholders in publicly-traded companies from selling any shares and ordering state funds to buy.

The bust hurt millions of new Chinese investors who piled into the market when it was near its peak.

Analysts say Beijing's moves on stocks, as well as its halting steps to ease currency controls, show the tension between the ruling Communist Party's desire for market-oriented reform and its overriding objective of retaining absolute political control.

The Shanghai Composite Index closed at 2,860.02 on Friday, which is a decline of about 45% from its peak in June of about 5,178 and barely higher than late 2014, when the market started rising.

Mr Liu was trained in engineering at the prestigious Tsinghua University and started a career in the state banking industry in the late 1980s.

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