China retains strong appeal for foreign banks amid high-standard opening up

Updated: Nov 10, 2023 Xinhua Print
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Some of China's large State-owned commercial banks and foreign lenders have continuously consolidated the Belt and Road Initiative. [Photo/VCG]

BEIJING -- China's opening up of its financial sector with greater depth will bring more opportunities for foreign institutions and encourage them to invest in the country, according to government officials.

"Over the past few years, China has been actively aligning with international rules and has further enhanced a series of regulatory rules," said Gao Song, an official with the National Financial Regulatory Administration, on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of Thailand's Kasikornbank (China) Beijing branch.

The establishment of the lender's Beijing branch is the latest example reflecting the attractiveness of China's financial markets, Gao said. Kasikornbank (China), a subsidiary of Kasikornbank, one of the major lenders in Thailand, now has branches in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Chengdu and Beijing.

Not just Kasikornbank (China), but many foreign financial institutions have been increasing their investment in China. From 2020 to the end of September this year, foreign banks in China added a total investment of 18.73 billion yuan (about $2.61 billion).

By the end of September, 202 banks from 52 countries and regions had set up offices in China, while overseas insurance institutions had established a total of 67 branches and 73 representative offices in the country.

The total assets of foreign banks reached 3.79 trillion yuan at the end of September, and those of foreign insurance institutions stood at around 2.33 trillion yuan.

Foreign banks reaped 16.47 billion yuan in net profits during the first three quarters. Their non-performing loan ratio was 0.94 percent and the liquidity ratio was 72.52 percent at the end of September, beating the average performance of domestic commercial banks.

"On the whole, foreign financial institutions have maintained sound operations in China, which fully demonstrate the positive results of China's financial sector opening up," said Zhou Gengqiang, deputy secretary general of the China Banking Association.

With equal emphasis on both "bringing in" and "going global," China has also accelerated its pace to expand into overseas markets in recent years.

For instance, 13 Chinese banks had set up 145 branches in 50 Belt and Road (BRI) participating countries by the end of June, and six Chinese insurance institutions had opened 15 overseas branches in eight BRI participating countries.

Cooperation in the financial sector has also strengthened. By the end of September, the National Financial Regulatory Administration had signed 126 cooperation agreements with its counterparts in 87 countries and regions, Gao said.

In the central financial work conference held last month, the country's leadership underlined that China will steadily expand institutional opening up in the financial sector and facilitate cross-border investment and financing.

Stressing high-standard financial opening up, the conference sent positive signals for the future development of foreign financial institutions in China, Zhou said.

"China's financial sector will continue to open wider and create a market-oriented, law-based and international business environment for foreign financial institutions and long-term capital," Gao added.

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