China market tsar in spotlight amid stock market turmoil

Sat Jan 9, 2016 1:14am EST
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By Matthew Miller and Shu Zhang

BEIJING (Reuters) - Xiao Gang, China's stock market tsar, once remarked that the only thing he'd done right in life was marry his wife.

No doubt the self-effacing Xiao, chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), has done many other things right. Managing the stock market, though, might not be a high point of his career.

Xiao faced internal criticism from the ruling Communist Party for his handling of the stock market crash last year, sources with ties to the leadership said at the time.

In another blow, a "circuit breaker" mechanism to limit stock market losses that was introduced on Monday was deactivated by Thursday after it was blamed for exacerbating a sharp selloff. Online media had nicknamed Xiao "Mr Circuit Breaker".

"There has to be responsibility. People are looking to the leader at the regulator. Xiao Gang is the public face," said Fraser Howie, an independent China market analyst and co-author of the book "Red Capitalism".

"He was lucky to keep his job after the fiasco of July and August."

The CSRC did not respond to a request for comment.

Xiao, 57, became chairman of the CSRC in the leadership churn when President Xi Jinping came into power, taking the helm of the regulator in March 2013. At the time, Chinese markets had been among the world's worst-performing for six years - indeed they had not recovered from their collapse during the global financial crisis.   Continued...

China Securities Regulatory Commission Chairman Xiao Gang addresses the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong January 19, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip