China unveils new cupboard beneath Xi; international minister Wang Yi promoted, could lead border talks with India

BEIJING: China on Monday revealed a new lineup in its state council, nominated by Prime Minister , as part of its efforts to stabilise the world’s second largest economy and appointed a missile expert as the defence minister amidst regional tensions with its neighbours over territorial disputes.

The new cabinet announced is the culmination of months of leadership reshuffles that saw President assert his dominance over policy making.

The new line-up approved by nearly 3,000 deputies of the National People’s Congress, includes four vice premiers, Han Zheng, Sun Chunlan, Hu Chunhua and Liu He. Liu He is expected to play a bigger role in the management of the Chinese economy, the world’s second largest after the US. China which was witnessing nearly three decades of doubledigit growth slowed down in 2016 with a slight improvement last year.

China’s tough-talking foreign minister was elevated to the top diplomatic post of state councillor, a move which could make him the new special representative to handle the vexed boundary negotiations with India.

With this, Wang Yi is the first Chinese official to hold dual posts in recent years. Wang succeeds , 67, who last year has been elevated to become member of the CPC’s , a high ranking body of the CPC headed by Xi.

By virtue of being the state councillor, Wang is also expected to succeed Yang as China’s special representative for boundary talks, though officials say the Chinese government’s position will become clear only after an official notification.

Xi, meanwhile, has chosen a military leader and a missile expert, Wei Fenghe, as the next defence minister.

This signals a sharp enhancement of Xi’s plans to infuse cutting-edge technologies in areas like drones, robots, aircraft carriers, radar and missiles to sharpen the teeth of the People’s Liberation Army. Wei played a key role in splitting the strategic missile force into two parts — the Rocket Force and the Strategic Support Force.

Xi, who was recently reelected for a second term, picked Yi Gang, a reformist, as the new governor of its central bank, the People’s Bank of China. He replaces Zhou Xiaochuan, who held the position for 15 years, overseeing the triumph over Japan to become the world’s second-biggest economy.

The Chinese president has retained Chen Wenqing as head of internal security, including espionage, counter-intelligence and counterterrorism to deal with the country’s troubled areas like the province.

The new revamped administration will have 26 ministries and commissions of the State Council which is the central Cabinet. 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.

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