China names Lan Foan as new finance minister amid stimulus push

BEIJING (Reuters) – China has appointed Lan Foan, a technocrat with little central government experience, as the new finance minister, state media said on Tuesday, as the government ramps up fiscal stimulus in a bid to revive the economy.

Lan, 61, who was named the Communist Party chief at the finance ministry last month, has succeeded Liu Kun who had been finance minister since 2018.

Previously, Lan was the party chief of the northern Chinese Shanxi province.

Lan’s appointment, which is widely expected, comes as China ramps up fiscal stimulus to shore up its economic recovery, drawing on a well-used playbook that relies heavily on debt and state spending but falls short on the deeper reforms.

China’s top parliament body on Tuesday approved the issuance of 1 trillion yuan ($137 billion) in sovereign bonds in the fourth quarter to fund rebuilding of areas hit by this year’s floods, state media said, confirming an earlier Reuters report.

The parliament also passed a bill that will allow local governments to front load part of their 2024 bond quotas.

The world’s second-largest economy grew faster than expected in the third quarter, improving the chances Beijing can meet its growth target of around 5% for 2023.

But headwinds persist a the property crisis deepens and private firms reluctant to spending amid weak confidence.

Lan began his career at the finance department of the southern Guangdong province in 1985, after graduating from the Hubei University of Finance and Economics, and became a vice provincial chief in 2016, according to his profile.

He transferred to Shanxi in 2021, as the province’s vice party chief, before becoming the party chief in December 2022.

Liu, China’s finance minister since 2018, has surpassed the official retirement age of 65 for minister-level officials.

($1 = 7.3090 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Alison Williams)