Currently a deputy premier in charge of finance and trade, Wang Qishan comes from a banking background. He made friends with former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who has called him “decisive and inquisitive” with “a wicked sense of humor.”
Mr. Wang earned his reputation as a cool-headed, can-do sort of man as mayor of Beijing in 2003 after a botched government cover-up of the SARS outbreak; his frankness impressed both ordinary Beijingers and foreign officials. He enhanced his image of competence when he successfully managed the biggest debt restructuring in China’s history.
As mayor of Beijing in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, Wang was in overall charge of preparations for the event, which was seen as China’s “coming out” party for the world and was widely praised as an enormous success.
Wang is among the most media-friendly of China’s normally retiring leaders, seeming quite at ease during a long interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose last year in an appearance few of his peers would have dared to make.