BEIJING, May 1 (Xinhua) -- China plans to unveil a slew of new measures to further open up its financial markets in order to improve the sector's management and competitiveness, according to the country's top banking and insurance regulator.
A total of 12 new rules will be released soon on the basis of profound research and evaluation, Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission told Xinhua in a joint interview, adding that China's financial opening-up efforts have already drawn a positive market response.
The upper shareholding limits for a single Chinese-funded bank and a single foreign-funded bank in a Chinese commercial bank will be abolished simultaneously, according to Guo.
Asset requirement for foreign banks to set up foreign-funded legal person banks or branches as well as for foreign financial institutions to hold stakes in trust firms will also be removed.
The financial authorities will treat all domestic and overseas entities equally, while cooperation and competition will be carried out subject to the same rule, he said.
In addition, restrictions on Chinese shareholders in a Sino-foreign joint-venture bank will be eased. The requirement that the sole or major Chinese shareholders should be financial institutions will be abolished.
The new rules will also allow overseas financial institutions to hold stakes in foreign-funded insurance companies operating in China.
The new rules will encourage overseas financial institutions to conduct equity, business and technological cooperation with banking and insurance institutions controlled by private capital.
The new opening-up measures will permit foreign-funded insurance companies to invest in or set up insurance agencies in China.
Currently, the shares of foreign-funded banks and insurance companies' total assets have reached 1.64 percent and 6.36 percent, respectively, in China.
"By further expanding the opening-up and forging a level playing market environment, it will help to ensure sufficient competition, optimize equity structure and regulating shareholders' behavior," Guo said.
Besides, both Chinese and foreign-funded financial institutions will enjoy widened entry policies in investing in or setting up consumption financial companies.
Foreign banks will no longer need approval in conducting RMB businesses and will be eligible to carry out RMB businesses upon their establishment, according to the new measures.
The new rules will also allow foreign banks to engage in agency collection and payment services, remove certain requirements on foreign insurance brokers to conduct insurance brokerage business in China, and ease the terms for foreign insurance companies to set up insurance institutions in China.
"Further opening up the banking and insurance sectors is not only essential for the development of Chinese economy and finance but also is conducive to enriching market entities and stimulate market vitality," Guo said.
Responding to forestalling and controlling risks, the official said institutions that severely violate laws and regulations and operate in an imprudent manner will face tough punishment.
Financial authorities will speed up formulating relative laws and regulations to facilitate the implementation of those opening-up measures, Guo added.