China will step up efforts to attract foreign firms, financial regulator says

HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) – China will boost efforts to attract foreign firms and will not change its stance to protect the legal rights of foreign companies, the nation’s top financial regulator said.

“The Chinese mainland will not change its policy to enhance efforts to attract and utilise foreign capital into its financial industry,” Li Yunze, head of China’s National Financial Regulatory Administration (NFRA), said at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

“The direction of providing a better business environment for foreign investment will not change,” Li said.

China is studying lowering the threshold for Hong Kong and Macau financial institutions to take stakes in mainland insurance companies, Li added.

China’s economy grew 5.2% in 2023, slightly above the official target, but the recovery was far shakier than many analysts expected, weighed down by mounting local government debt and a deepening property crisis.

Stock markets in Hong Kong and Shanghai have tumbled as global investors in China head for the exit in the world’s second-biggest economy.

China’s economic development is facing some difficulties and challenges but economic growth remains strong and there is ample room for macro policies, Li said.

Overall operations in China’s financial industry are stable and the risks are controllable, he said.

(Reporting by Selena Li, Kane Wu, Ziyi Tang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)