China to name new head of planning agency, commerce minister: sources

[BEIJING] China will appoint a new head at the country's top economic planning agency and a new commerce minister as part of a reshuffle, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said, ahead of a crucial Communist Party meeting later this year.

He Lifeng, a vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), will be named as head of the agency, replacing Xu Shaoshi, who has reached retirement age, three sources said.

Zhong Shan, currently a vice commerce minister, will take over the ministry from Gao Hucheng, who is due to retire, two other sources said.

Mr He, 62, had previously worked in China's northern city of Tianjin and southeastern Fujian province.

The NDRC is tasked to oversee the economy, regulate prices and approve major infrastructure projects.

The NDRC, once a powerful ministry during the era of the centrally planned economy, has seen its influence erode as Beijing pushes for market-based reforms and deregulation to let market forces play a bigger role in the economy. "The announcement will be made soon," said one of the sources.

Both Mr Xu and Mr Gao have reached the mandatory retirement age of 65 for a Chinese cabinet minister.


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