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PROFILE: Xiao Yaqing – China’s new Minister of Industry and Information Technology

­The 61-year-old Xiao Yaqing was recently named China’s new minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), taking over from Miao Wei, who had reached retirement age. 

The new post gives Xiao, a Beijing native, key responsibility for rolling out China’s ambitious plans for digitalization, ramping up domestic industrial innovation and modernization. China has announced huge investments in “new infrastructure” – including 5G, national data centers, AI – as part of its post-coronavirus recovery plan. As head of the MIIT, Xiao will oversee large parts of this, licensing new technologies or crafting strategic policy for China’s digital and industrial infrastructure of tomorrow.  
Xiao has made a name for himself as a very capable administrator and manager. And he brings deep and diverse experience to the job: He served as head of the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), China’s main market regulator; as director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC), central watchdog of state-owned enterprises; and as one of the top executives at Chinalco, China’s biggest aluminum producer. 

Amidst the trade war with the US, Xiao will likely push an agenda infused with Beijing’s growing wish for independence from foreign tech. MIIT is a key actor for drafting China’s strategic technology development plans and it was in charge of drafting the Made in China 2025 initiative. Xiao’s grasp of both Chinese industry and the country’s regulatory regime, he should prove a good choice for the job. 

Nis Grünberg, Analyst, MERICS 


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