Chinese President Xi Jinping's trusted confidant and top adviser on economic policy has emerged as the leading candidate to lead the People's Bank of China, or PBOC, Reuters reported, citing three people with knowledge of the matter.
Economist Liu He, who was elevated to the 25-member Politburo in October 2017, would replace PBOC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan, who is expected to retire in March after holding the post since 2002.
Liu is also expected to be appointed as China's vice premier overseeing the economy and head of the cabinet-level Financial Stability and Development Committee, according to Reuters, which noted that Liu could serve concurrently as vice premier and PBOC chief.
While he is the clear front-runner to lead the central bank, there is still no certainty that Liu will get the job, the report cautioned, citing sources.
In January, Liu said at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that China would improve access to its domestic markets and implement reforms in 2018 that could "exceed the international community's expectations," according to the South China Morning Post.
Liu, who also heads the General Office of the ruling Communist Party's Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, will visit Washington next week amid trade tensions between China and the U.S., news website Axios reported.
Xi is expected to preside over a Communist Party convention by the end of February to select the next government, including the PBOC chief and other regulators.
Apart from Liu, other contenders for the PBOC governorship are top banking regulator Guo Shuqing and Hubei provincial party chief Jiang Chaoliang.