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China's new bank regulator vows to curb risks

This article is more than 12 months old

BEIJING: China's newly appointed banking regulator vowed yesterday to strengthen supervision of the lending sector, underscoring Beijing's determination to fend off financial risks and push forward with reforms this year.

Mr Guo Shuqing, making his first public appearance as chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), said he is determined to remove "chaos" from the regulatory system and "safeguard" the health of "the country and the people".

This follows remarks by President Xi Jinping on Tuesday. He told top policymakers that the nation must crack down on financial irregularities and illegal behaviour.

China's regulators are working on new rules to reduce risks in the booming asset management industry, Mr Guo said.

He said he will tighten supervision of banks' wealth management products (WMPs), and curb the expansion of banks' off-balance-sheet business.

Chinese investors, lured by high yields and expectations of implicit guarantees by the banks or other financial institutions, have poured trillions of yuan into lightly regulated WMPs, the biggest component of so-called "shadow banking" in China.

The value of banks' outstanding WMPs is close to 30 trillion yuan ($4.36 trillion), CBRC estimates show.

Mr Guo also warned banks need to "prudently" manage loans to property developers and mortgage lending.

The leverage ratio of mortgage loans is not too high, but rapid mortgage growth is a concern, he added.

The CBRC will restrict lending that it suspects is being used for property market speculation. - REUTERS