Qin Xiao

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For the Chinese gymnast, see Xiao Qin. For the flute, see Xiao (flute).
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Qin.

Qin Xiao (Chinese: 秦晓; pinyin: Qín Xiǎo; born April 1947) is a former banker and promoter of business reform who is now the Council Chairman of the Boyuan Foundation,[1] a Hong Kong-registered non-profit think tank[2] that is regarded as representing reformist or liberalising factions of the political and business elite in mainland China.[3][4]


Qin's father was a senior party cadre. When in high school in 1966, the Cultural Revolution began and Qin Xiao became a Red Guard. As many Red Guards were in fact targeting people such as his father, Qin created a faction that defended against such radical attacks. At the end of the Cultural Revolution, like many former Red Guards he was relocated to the countryside (in his case Inner Mongolia).[5]


After several years working in government (including time at the Coal and Oil ministries),[6] Qin Xiao became Vice Chairman of the Board and General Manager in China International Trust & Investment Corp and then Chairman of the Board in CITIC Bank. In 2001 he was appointed Chairman of the Board of China Merchants Group, in difficulty since the Asian financial crisis of 1997, and turned the troubled financial conglomerate around. During his time there, annual growth reached 20 per cent, total assets increased more than 400 per cent and net profits increased about 20-fold.[5] Also in 2001, he served as Chairman of the APEC Business Advisory Council, where he regularly promoted economic liberalization.[7] In 2008 he became a non-executive director of China Telecom.[6][8] He is also the Honorary Chairman of Hong Kong Chinese Enterprises Association.[9]


In 2010 he retired from full-time business, stating he wished to become a "public intellectual".[3] Since then, he has used his position as a respected business leader and chairman of the Boyuan Foundation to promote "universal values"[5] (a loaded term in Chinese politics often associated with Western-style human rights and democracy), political reform[4][5] and economic reform[4][10] in China, whilst building a network of like-minded movers and shakers.[3] As well as major Chinese figures, the Boyuan Foundation includes such Western luminaries as Brent Scowcroft and Leon Brittan.[1]

He has explicitly and repeatedly stated his opposition to the so-called "China Model" of politics and economics (mixing authoritarianism and state-owned enterprises with some market economics). For example, in his speech at the “China’s Economy in 2010” forum on Jan. 7, 2010 at the New York Stock Exchange, Qin said: “Some people believe that the crisis of the past 2 years illustrates that the Chinese model is the best model in the world. I don't agree with that.[4] On other occasions, he has said “the government should stay within the government’s functions” and “power cannot be mixed and sold.[5] His calls for more liberal political and economic reform and less government involvement have earned him the enmity of the "New Left" grouping in Chinese politics.[3]

His involvement in (non-Red Guard) politics dates back at least to 1983, when Qin began working as a party official at the Chinese Communist Party's power centre in Zhongnanhai, including stints as a member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee Political Bureau and secretary to Song Renqiong, a former secretary of the party's central secretariat.[5] He is further connected to the princelings of the Party by family relation: his sister is married to a son of Chen Yun, one of the Eight Immortals.[3]

Qin is currently a member of the Eleventh National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and previous posts include:


Qin graduated in 1975 from the Shanxi Mining Institute with a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering.[6] In 1983, he received a masters in Economic Management from the China University of Mining.[6] In 2002 he received a Ph.D in Economics from the University of Cambridge.[11] He is currently a part-time professor at the School of Economics and Management of Tsinghua University and the Graduate School of the People's Bank of China.[9]


Qin has written several books and articles, including:

  • Asia's financial crisis and the post-crisis recovery: a structural and institutional perspective (University of Hong Kong. Chinese Management Centre, 2000) [1]
  • The theory of the firm and Chinese enterprise reform: the case of China International Trust and Investment Corporation (RoutledgeCurzon 2004) [2]