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New rules to improve China's financial regulation
Last Updated: 2018-03-30 08:06 | Xinhua
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With the approval of new regulations and programs, China is taking another major step to rein in financial risks.

Guidelines to regulate the asset management businesses of financial institutions were among the documents approved at the first meeting of the central committee for deepening overall reform Wednesday.

The guidelines, first released as a draft last November, marked a key step to standardizing the country's fast-growing asset management industry, analysts said.

China's asset management businesses have been expanding rapidly in recent years, with collective outstanding volume reaching over 100 trillion yuan (about 16 trillion U.S. dollars) by the end of 2016, the China International Capital Corporation quoted data from the central bank as saying.

But the expansion has also brought issues such as high leverage and shadow banking, which the new rules tried to rein in.

The sweeping new guidelines require financial institutions to set leverage ceilings on asset management products. For example, the total assets for an open-ended public offering product should not exceed 140 percent of the product's net assets, while the total assets for a closed-end public offering product should not be greater than 200 percent of its net assets.

The guidelines also unify rules covering asset management products issued by all types of financial institutions, including banks and insurance firms, a move that analysts said could address regulatory loopholes.

"We should minimize regulatory arbitrage and promote standardized development of the asset management business," said a document released after Wednesday's meeting.

While the rules have yet to be officially released, many stakeholders have responded positively to the change. In a filing on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, China Merchants Bank said the expected release of the new rules will mark a "milestone" in the asset management industry.

"We believe the guidelines will bring more opportunities than challenges to our company," it said.

The company announced earlier that it will establish a wholly owned asset management subsidiary with initial registered capital of 5 billion yuan.

The meeting also approved a program on establishing a financial court in Shanghai, seen by analysts as another step to enhance financial regulation.

The court is designed to improve the justice system for financial cases and create a good legal environment for the financial sector, said the document.

The court will have collective jurisdiction over financial cases with the aim of letting the financial sector better serve the real economy, prevent and control financial risk, and deepen financial reform, it said.

The establishment of the financial court will also help carry forward reform of the justice system for the financial sector, raise the level of professionalism in financial justice and build a just, efficient and authoritative justice system for the financial sector, said the document.

Prevention of financial risks is key for China in one of what policy makers called the "three tough battles," namely controlling risks, reducing poverty and tackling pollution.

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