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Morning Coffee: Meet the man with the most stressful job in Asian finance

Xiao Gang, the man with the most stressful job in Asian finance

Under pressure

Xiao Gang has a lot on his plate right now. The chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission is heading China’s increasingly costly (and so far ineffective) efforts to reverse the recent dramatic slide in share prices in the country.

But how much do you know about the 56-year-old former bank boss who’s now on a very public and much-criticised quest to bring back China’s bull run? Here are some interesting facts we’ve pulled from a new Wall Street Journal article:

  • Xiao Gang has been working nearly 24/7 during the turmoil of the last few weeks, according to people close to the agency who spoke to the WSJ. A recent photo seen by the newspaper shows him eating by himself in an empty cafeteria within the regulatory commission’s buildings.
  • In a 2012 interview with Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV, Xiao said that marrying his wife was “the only thing” he had done right in his life. Internet commentators in China have seized upon this as proof of what they claim is his inadequate handling of the current market unrest.
  • Since taking his current job, Xiao has let his hair go gray – most “high-ranking officials tend to dye their hair boot-polish black,” reports the WSJ.
  • Xiao has until now “maintained a low profile” at the regulator. “He never says much, but when he says or does something, you know it’s after very careful consideration and planning,” an official at the securities commission told the WSJ.
  • He was previously head of Bank of China, where he “transformed the bank from one known in China mostly for its international business to one that increasingly focused on the domestic market,” reports the WSJ.
  • “In 2009, under his reign, the bank was the least profitable of China’s so-called Big Four state-owned banks, but it was the most aggressive in ramping up lending at the government’s request. That won Xiao a slot in late 2012 on the Communist Party’s powerful Central Committee, paving the way for his later promotion.”
  • Xiao Gang was for a time believed to be a potential successor to Zhou Xiaochuan, the chief of China’s central bank. But he was instead appointed to head the regulatory commission in March 2013.


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