Agricultural Bank of China Chairman Liu Shiyu has been appointed as the new head of the nation’s securities regulator, the State Council said on Saturday.

A brief notice from the cabinet

said Xiao Gang will be removed from the top post of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and replaced by 54-year-old Liu.

Liu will also serve as party chief of the commission.

Speculation about Xiao’s future has been mounting in recent months after he took flak from investors for introducing a circuit-breaker mechanism last month.

That mechanism triggered an automatic shutdown of China’s stock market on two occasions in January after the market slumped more than 7 per cent.

The mechanism was scrapped within four days by the CSRC due largely to a sharp drop in equity prices that is estimated to have wiped out all the gains made in 2015.

Reuters reported in early January that Xiao had offered to resign. The commission denied the report at the time.

READ MORE: Why China should just let the stock market crash

Liu was named head of the Agricultural Bank of China in December 2012. He previously served as the deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China.

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