Zhou Xiaochuan

Governor of the People's Bank of China

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  • In-Country Power
  • International Power
  • Respect
  • Military Strength
  • Intelligence
  • Special Skill: Monetary Master

Official Stats

  • Official Title: Governor of the People's Bank
  • Government: One-Party State
  • Years Left in Office: Indefinite
  • Political Classification:
  • Education: PhD, Economic Systems Engineering
  • Age: 72 (born January 29, 1948)

Zhou Xiaochuan Facts and Information

Important Points

  • Zhou Xiaochuan has been the Governor of the People’s Bank of China since 2002.
  • The People’s Bank of China has the power to control and regulate monetary policy in China.
  • The People’s Bank of China is equivalent to the United States Federal Reserve, but does not have the power to print money. This power still belongs to the central government.
  • Zhou’s wife is also a prominent figure in China’s Ministry of Commerce. Forbes referred to them as one of Asia’s most influential couples and one “that the Obama administration [should] watch out for in the coming years.”
  • Zhou presides over the People’s Bank of China, which has the most assets of any public financial institution in the World.

The Rundown

Hey! Have you heard the big news? China is rich! Rich, rich, rich! China is exploding economically, China will soon be the biggest economy in the world, China gots all the money! Bling, bling on the I Ching aka Yì Jīng! RICH!

Why is that? Well, the answer of course could fill a book or two, but it does have a lot to do with the unleashed creative force of over a billion people, coupled with some really good economic and fiscal leadership over the years. Hopefully you already know China’s main leaders that have overseen this era of prosperity: President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao…but there is another Chinese money man that shares at least some of the credit for for his country’s rise to riches here lately, and that dude is one Zhou Xiao-Chuan. 

Zhou is the Governor of the People’s Bank of China, which is the equivalent of the United States Chairman of the Federal Reserve.  Overseeing fiscal policy, deciding about state investments, moving cash around to control growth rates and interest rates….all in a day’s work for Zhou. While not single-handedly responsible for the boom China has seen, he is regarded as the main sustainer of this awesome growth period—his policies are the reason why China has seen very stable, near double digit growth since 2000.  Zhou is one of the most powerful men in China, with the power to move millions of dollars around China and the world each and every day.  A man of monetary might! A fiscal Chinese Incredible Hulk!

All kidding aside, Zhou was always a money kind of guy.  He got his start in politics in the State Council, working as the Assistant Minister of Foreign Trade from 1986-1989 and ascended in the ranks of Chinese banking.  In 1995, he was the Administrator of State Administration of Foreign Exchange, regulating and managing China’s vast foreign currency reserves measuring in the, not billions but, trillions of dollars!  TRILLIONS! Even Bill Gates and Warren Buffett would be jealous!  From there, he was named Deputy Governor of the People’s Bank of China and eventually, in 2002 he was named the head honcho, the Governor of the People’s Bank of China.

One thing about Zhou that makes him a darling of the current government, and even the regular Chinese Joe on the streets: he targets corruption any chance he gets!  Due to the concentration of power in the government in China, such environment is conducive to corruption in many areas of the bureaucracy and banking sector. During 1998 to 2000, he served as head of the China Construction Bank and oversaw the formation of asset-management companies charged with working out the banking system’s bad debt.  As top dog, Zhou has cleared up $865 billion dollars in bad loans.  Even U.S. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke can’t claim that! Maybe the US should try and hire this dude to clean up the mess Wall Street has made! Speaking of which…

To further the ‘corruption fighter’ title, add ‘critic’ to his resume too.  In 2008, amidst the number of financial institutions, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Citibank and AIG to name a couple, being bailed out by the U.S. government, Zhou was amazed at how foolish the lending had become.  Further deriding the U.S. banking sector, Zhou said those loans would never occur on his watch in China and stated that ministries of finance should, “use extraordinary means to contain systemic risk,” which would allow them to “act boldly and expeditiously without having to go through a lengthy or even painful approval process.”  So far he’s backed up the talk: during the economic slowdown of 2008, China was largely unaffected, still posting restrained growth.

A fun fact about Zhou: In August 2010, a rumor had been spread on the Chinese cyberspace stating that Zhou had defected to another country.  This news not only electrified people within China, but sent shockwaves through the International finance community.  In an effort to quell unsubstantiated rumors from spreading, Chinese censors had to filter out news regarding Zhou.  It certainly proved how valuable Zhou had become to Chinese economic stability AND global economic stability.

Even though Zhou has taken China through its massive growth and weathered the storms through the economic slowdown in the last decade, Zhou is a very modest and humble person.  He claims, “I am just a referee [overseeing China’s economy].  I am neither a sportsman or a coach.”  That is surely the understatement of the last decade.  How many people can claim they were responsible for the titanic growth China has seen in the past 10 years? 

Zhou may not be THE man of the world yet (that honor still belongs to Ben “Big Bucks” Bernanke) but he certainly has an enormous influence in East Asia.  He is entering the final few years of his second term as Governor of the Bank of China.  One wonders if the next guy will have as much sway as Zhou has had.  The next governor certainly will have big shoes to fill: holding China’s economy steady, battling inflation concerns, deflecting International pressure on valuating Chinese currency, and keeping China’s position as number two in the World. 

Most of us consider Zhou the most academically capable of all current Chinese leadership (and I think highly of the others too!), as a man with high intellect, diplomacy, sensibility, work ethic, and holistic thinking.Zhou is also a strong and vocal advocate of further liberalization in the financial sector, and has increasingly displayed an openness to the press—quite rare for a senior Chinese official—and is most famous for the motto: “If the market can solve the problem, let the market do it. I am just a referee. I am neither a sportsman nor a coach.” Wow. Does anyone out there really still think China is communist? If so, contact Chairman Zhou for an economic smack-down.

Could China bend their own rules and try to keep Zhou aboard as top dog?  In order to keep their status as global superpower, it isn’t totally unreasonable to see Zhou stay on behind the scenes and such.  That is how important Zhou is to China.  A fun fact about Zhou: his name “Xiaochuan” literally means Little River.  In the past decade, he has moved oceans and parted rivers to bring China where it is now standing, as number two global economy in the entire world.  More like “Gigantic River” you know what I’m sayin’?? This dude is the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers combined in terms of economic clout…a veritable flash flood of fiscal fortitude!

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