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Lan Fo’an, a former provincial governor and veteran official, is expected to be named soon as China’s new finance minister, according to people familiar with the matter, as a reshuffle of top officials continues.

Beijing said on Thursday that Lan, until this week the Communist party secretary of Shanxi and previously the northern province’s governor, would become party chief at the Ministry of Finance.

Up to now that role has been held by finance minister Liu Kun, who is expected to leave the ministry soon.

The elevation of Lan, 61, appears to signal an end to President Xi Jinping’s overhaul of his economic policy team this year. Xi began an unprecedented third term in March as the leader of the world’s second-largest economy.

Other top economic policymaking bodies, led by the People’s Bank of China and the National Development and Reform Commission, have also had changes of leadership this year.

Broader changes in the Chinese government this year have included the removal of foreign minister Qin Gang, as well as what US officials believe is a decision to strip defence minister Li Shangfu of his responsibilities.

Such moves have bolstered perceptions that power under Xi is becoming still more centralised and less transparent.

Lan, whose record includes governor-level posts in three provinces, is facing a daunting task.

The finance ministry is under pressure to kick-start China’s economy, which has been suffering under the burden of skyrocketing local government debt and massive real estate defaults. The impact of the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions on reviving economic activity has also fallen short of expectations.

People close to the finance ministry said Lan was in line for the post of minister but would have little leeway to design policy initiatives on his own as decision-making had been centralised.

“All he could do is to listen to what his boss tells him and then implement,” said a person close to the ministry.

A native of the southern Guangdong Province, Lan began his career in 1985 as a staffer at the finance ministry. He then spent more than two decades in Guangdong working in finance and audit departments.

The people close to the finance ministry said Lan was chosen in part because of his connection to Liu, who played a critical role in choosing his successor, as the men worked together at the Guangdong Finance Bureau in the 2000s.

“Lan is the kind of candidate who not only understands what he does but also has trust from the top leadership,” said a person close to the finance ministry. “You need to have both qualities to move up these days.”

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