Chinese Power Banker, on Wrong Side of Politics, Reassigned

April 12, 2013 Updated: April 12, 2013


Chen Yuan, chairman of China Development Bank and son of Mao Zedong’s chief economist Chen Yun, was recently shunted out of his high-powered role at the China Development Bank (CDB), which manages assets of nearly $1 trillion. 

The downsizing may have been due to Chen’s support for ousted Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai, and comes as part of an ongoing power shift under the regime of new Party leader Xi Jinping.

The China Development Bank is the world’s largest policy lender, and finances major infrastructure projects, such as the Three Gorges Dam, under the direct jurisdiction of Beijing.

Chen, 67, who was CDB governor for 15 years, will now set up a multinational development bank for BRICS–the five emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa–according to an April 11 online report by business publication Caixin. What his final position will be at the new bank is not clear. The chairmanship of CDB is expected to go to Hu Huaibang at Bank of Communications.

There is speculation that Chen’s apparent demotion is due to his pro-Bo Xilai stance, which he stood by even after Bo’s fall from power. During the tomb-sweeping season last week, Chen paid tribute to Bo Xilai’s father Bo Yibo–a prominent Party leader believed to have had a close relationship with Chen’s father–laying a wreath that said “Chinese Development Bank, Chen Yuan.” 

Chen also published an article in the state mouthpiece People’s Daily on April 10, recalling a 1993 speech by former regime leader Jiang Zemin. Chen praised Jiang’s “insight for using the financial communication system to contain corruption.” It is widely held that Jiang was grooming Bo Xilai to replace Hu Jintao as Party leader, instead of current head Xi Jinping.

The timing of Chen’s transfer is notable as it coincided with two other incidents, which may be indicative of a shift in power among the top ranks of the Communist Party in favor of Xi Jinping’s leadership. 

The first was the prosecution of sacked railway minister Liu Zhijun, who is connected to Jiang’s patronage network, announced on April 10. Speculation in the Hong Kong press said that Liu may face execution for his behavior as Xi attempts to prove his chops as a tough new leader.

A few days earlier on April 6, Lens Magazine ran a feature story on torture at the Masanjia Labor Camp that shocked the Chinese public, and was censored on various websites soon afterwards. The re-education through labor camp is notorious for detaining practitioners of the Falun Gong meditation discipline as part of a massive persecution campaign launched in 1999 by Jiang Zemin.
Translation by Tan Howha. Written in English by Cassie Ryan.

Read the original Chinese article.