Foreign financial firms eye opportunities in China as key meeting vows further opening-up
Published: Nov 23, 2023 07:48 PM
A view of the PBC building in Beijing Photo: VCG

A view of the PBC building in Beijing Photo: VCG

Foreign financial enterprises have expressed full confidence in the prospects of the Chinese economy and vowed further investment in the market amid the country's firm commitment to opening-up in the financial sector and stable economic recovery.

The Shanghai Head Office of the People's Bank of China and local financial regulators held a meeting on in-depth study of the spirit of the Central Financial Work Conference. The meeting encouraged securities companies, fund companies and futures brokers to play a leading and exploratory role in institutional opening-up and other sectors by considering the status quo of Shanghai, according to a press release on the agency's website on Thursday.

The meeting came after the first conference of the Central Financial Commission on Monday, which called for efforts to fully implement the arrangements of the Central Financial Work Conference, accelerate the building of a nation with a strong financial sector, and better serve and support China's modernization drive.

Amid the country's stepped-up efforts in expanding financial opening-up and its stable economic recovery, many leading global financial institutions are eager to increase their presence in China, eying vast opportunities from the country's green economy, digital transition and the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Despite external headwinds - notably a sluggish global economic recovery and weak overseas demand - there are still silver linings in the form of opportunities for Chinese companies to explore, Wang Yunfeng, CEO of HSBC Bank (China) Co, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"Our report 'Connecting to China' released at this year's China International Import Expo showed that 73 percent of the surveyed international businesses expect to increase their supply chain footprint in China over the next three years," Wang said.

HSBC, which is positive about China's long-term growth prospects, has been continuously investing to grow its businesses in the world's second-largest economy. HSBC recently announced plans to acquire Citigroup's retail wealth management portfolios in the Chinese mainland.

Earlier this year, the group's insurance brokerage entity in China obtained a fund sales license, becoming the first wealth management institution in the country to hold both insurance brokerage and fund sales licenses.

Helen Huang, managing director for China of the world's leading asset management company Fidelity International, told the Global Times in a recent interview that "China is one of our strategic markets in the world, and we are optimistic about China's development in the long term."

In the face of global uncertainties, the Chinese market is a good place to diversify portfolios and explore value, as China's macroeconomic fundamentals are more stable and more resilient in dealing with external challenges, Huang said. She said that there are many opportunities in the pension market, cross-border capital flows and investment advisory work in China amid the country's further opening-up across its capital markets.

In recent years, more than 50 measures have been rolled out to deepen financial opening-up, including scrapping foreign ownership caps in the banking and insurance sectors and slashing access thresholds for foreign investors.

To date, 30 globally systemically important banks have set up branches in China, and nearly half of the 40 largest insurance companies in the world have entered the Chinese market.

These moves debunked some Western media outlets' hype that foreign capital is withdrawing from China, Huo Jianguo, a vice chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"There are a few foreign enterprises that have proactively withdrawn from China. Those that are forced to leave the market are doing so either because of geopolitical forces or poor operations," Huo said, noting that more competitive and international foreign companies still attach importance to investing more in China.

Japan's Mizuho Financial Group has filed an application with the China Securities Regulatory Commission to establish a securities company in China. If approved, it will become the third Japanese securities firm in China, along with Nomura Orient International Securities Co and Daiwa Securities Group, the Shanghai Securities News reported on Thursday.

The huge Chinese market and continuous improvement in the business environment are keeping China as an attractive market for foreign companies, Huo said, noting that foreign enterprises' confidence has also improved thanks to targeted policies to bolster the economy.

"We have confidence in China's long-term economic prospects, which will continuously create new growth opportunities for international businesses and investors, in particular in the country's new economy sector, low-carbon transition, its trade corridors with the Middle East and ASEAN, as well as its financial markets," Wang said.