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March 3, 2021

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Financial risks in banking, insurance fields addressed

CHINA has made “decisive achievements” in preventing and addressing financial risks in its banking and insurance sectors, the country’s top banking and insurance regulator said yesterday.

To forestall the financial risks, the country has prioritized deleveraging its financial sectors, with the trend of “blind expansion” of financial assets fundamentally reversed, said Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission.

From 2017 to 2020, the banking systems’ assets grew at an average rate of 8.3 percent annually, while the insurance sector saw its total assets expand at 11.4 percent on average per year. The growth rates are roughly half of the levels from 2009 to 2016, the CBIRC data showed.

China has also made strides in dealing with its non-performing loans, with a total of 8.8 trillion yuan (US$1.36 trillion) of such loans handled in the past four years, Guo noted. The “shadow banking” businesses also shrank by 20 trillion yuan from the peak time, Guo added.

In terms of the property market, Guo said that the bubble of real estate financialization had been curbed, as indicators showed that the growth rate of loans in the real estate market last year was lower than that in other sectors for the first time in eight years.

The incremental risk over local governments’ hidden debt has been basically controlled, Guo said, adding that the country is making progress in defusing the risks in the field in an orderly manner.

Global markets are starting to see side effects of fiscal and monetary policy steps in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Guo said. “Financial markets are trading at high levels in Europe, the US and other developed countries, which runs counter to the real economy,” he said, adding China is studying ways to manage capital inflows to prevent turbulence in the domestic market.

Guo also pointed out that Internet platforms and other financial technology companies should obey the same rules and regulations that apply for traditional financial institutions.

Growth of Internet banks, such as MYbank under Ant Group, WeBank affiliated to Tencent, and XWBank in Sichuan are encouraged, but a unified supervision will be implemented on the new entrants and established players. Chinese financial regulators have rolled out a slew of measures since last year to tighten the oversight of online lending practices.


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