‘Broker Butcher’ Set to Be China’s Top Securities Regulator

Wu Qing, a 57-year-old who earned the nickname “the broker butcher” for cracking down on traders in the mid-2000s, is slated to become the head of the nation’s securities regulator.

(Bloomberg) — Wu Qing, a 57-year-old who earned the nickname “the broker butcher” for cracking down on traders in the mid-2000s, is slated to become the head of the nation’s securities regulator. 

Wu, now the vice mayor of Shanghai, is poised to replace Yi Huiman as chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, a person familiar with the move said, asking not to be identified discussing private information. Yi, in charge of the CSRC since 2019, will oversee the banking and insurance sector.

Wu is no stranger to markets. Before becoming vice mayor of the financial hub in 2018, he headed the Shanghai Stock Exchange for almost two years. Prior to that, he worked in various roles at the CSRC, earning the nickname “the broker butcher” after shuttering 31 firms over regulation breaches. He then oversaw the fund industry until 2010.  

Wu was elected as an alternate member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee at the 20th congress last year, paving the way for his elevation. He also worked alongside Li Qiang, China’s incoming premier, when the latter served as party chief for Shanghai.

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The appointment, which is typically announced around the annual legislative meeting in early March, could still be subject to change, the person said. Representatives from the CSRC and the Shanghai government didn’t immediately respond to requests seeking comment. 

Wu is a low-key technocrat who has expressed zero tolerance for wrongdoing, according to a person familiar with him. Wu sometimes jokes he is more fit to be a surgeon, the person said.

Wu will now help guide the nation’s financial opening for foreign firms. Wall Street banks have been ramping up in China over the past few years after the country allowed full foreign ownership of operations, but they’ve been stymied by a slow and opaque approval process.  

“I don’t expect the new chairman of CSRC to take any kind of action to make the CSRC appear in the headlines,” said Zhiwu Chen, a professor of finance at the University of Hong Kong Business School. “Given the geopolitical tension and also given that China is growing more suspicious of western businesses and western governments and so on, I don’t think a new chairman can really do much against that kind of headwind.”

Wu’s first test will be to regulate China’s $11 trillion stock market, where the rollout of a registration-based system for initial public offerings across all of its major trading venues could stoke volatility. Restoring confidence among foreign investors is key too, after their appetite for onshore stocks sank to record low last year. 

Another challenge will be to resolve a yearslong audit spat with the US, which forced delistings in New York of a few Chinese state-owned enterprises last year. Even though US officials signaled a breakthrough in late 2022 when their inspectors were allowed to review audit documents of firms based in China and Hong Kong, more Chinese companies have joined an exodus from US bourses.

Shanghai Role

Under his current role as deputy mayor of Shanghai, Wu’s responsibilities have included overseeing the city’s finance industry and taxation as well as the development of its free trade zones. He’s been a big advocate of financial opening and digitization. 

Before his earlier stint with CSRC, Wu held various roles at the national planning committee, which later morphed into the National Development and Reform Commission, as well as the State Council’s securities committee, whose functions were later taken over by the CSRC. Wu holds a PhD in economics from the Renmin University of China in Beijing. 

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