Cha herself is unavailable for comment. The SFC public relations office refuses to comment and her secretary says she is on leave. But consultants and fund managers in Hong Kong say they welcome the move and are anxious to get it confirmed.

Cha is expected to play a constructive role in developing an open-ended mutual funds industry on the mainland, one reason why international fund managers are keen to see her move to Beijing. The CSRC is deep in the process of building a domestic mutual funds industry, and has outlined draft legislation to allow foreigners to take stakes in joint ventures with local securities and asset management companies to launch mutual funds once China’s accession to the World Trade Organization is finalized.

CSRC is currently chaired by Zhou Xiao-chuan and there are three deputy chairmen, all from Mainland China. In addition, Anthony Neoh, the former head of SFC, serves as chief advisor to CSRC, while Michael Wu, another former SFC director, is advisor to CSRC. Wu is slated to leave in March, which has generated speculation that Cha would fulfil a ‘Hong Kong quota’. But if so, she will do so at a higher level; indeed, as an actual vice chair, she would attain the highest formal level within CSRC for any Hong Konger.

“It is an excellent move,” says one consultant in Hong Kong. “She did well at SFC and served 10 years in a challenging position. She brings a Western way of thinking to CSRC – a Hong Kong outlook.”