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China securities regulator met foreign banks to soothe economic concerns


A man stands near a screen showing news footage of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) building on the Financial Street in Beijing, China July 9, 2021 — Reuters/Tingshu Wang A man stands near a screen showing news footage of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) building on the Financial Street in Beijing, China July 9, 2021 — Reuters/Tingshu Wang

The China Securities and Regulatory Commission (CSRC) met this week with executives at top western banks and asset managers to reassure them about the country's economic prospects after regulatory crackdowns in 2021, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said on Friday, Reuters reports.

CSRC Vice Chairman Fang Xinghai hosted the virtual meeting with more than a dozen foreign financial institutions on Tuesday, said the people, who declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Senior executives from firms including BlackRock (BLK.N), Credit Suisse (CSGN.S), Fidelity International, Goldman Sachs (GS.N), JPMorgan (JPM.N), Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and UBS (UBSG.S) attended the meeting, said two of the sources.

Fang reassured the meeting participants that China will achieve "respectable growth" in 2022, one of the people said.

Fang also said that China's leadership understood that the regulatory changes Beijing introduced in 2021 would affect economic growth but was determined to tolerate the pains, the person said.

However, 2022 will be different year as it will have a series of significant events, including the key once-in-five-years Communist Party congress later this year, Fang said, according to that person.

The CSRC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fidelity and UBS declined to comment, while the other companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Chinese regulator called the meeting against the backdrop of a slowdown in growth in the world's second-largest economy amid its struggles with sporadic small-scale COVID-19 outbreaks and the darkening outlook for its heavily indebted property sector.

SLOWING ECONOMY

The economy grew by 4 per cent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, its weakest expansion in 1-1/2 years and China's central bank has already started cutting interest rates and pumping more cash into the financial system in response.

The International Monetary Fund said in a report on Friday that China's economic recovery was well advanced but imbalanced because of weak consumption, and also warned of uncertainty brought by regulatory crackdowns on the technology sector and slowing productivity.

Chinese regulators last year took aim at tech giants, private education companies and other firms, targeting unfair competition and data governance.

Such reforms could help growth but can damage market sentiment which in turn could dent investment, the IMF said.

The CSRC was also keen to hear from the meeting participants whether foreign financial institutions' asset allocation to China will change because of the prospect of rising US interest rates, said the person.

Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell unleashed bets on five or more hikes this year after he left the door open on Wednesday to raising rates faster than in previous cycles. 

Fang also told the executives that China and the United States were making progress in coordinating regulations governing Chinese companies listed in New York and there could be a "positive surprise" by June or earlier, the person said.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission said last month that US-listed Chinese companies must disclose whether they are owned or controlled by a government entity and provide evidence of their auditing inspections.

The rule advances a process that could lead to more than 200 companies being kicked off US exchanges, making some Chinese companies less attractive to investors.

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