China has opened its doors to foreign investment

Photo: Getty Images

China has announced plans to relax foreign ownership restrictions on Chinese banks, effective immediately.

Authorities will also move to lift the ceiling on foreign ownership limits for securities funds and joint ventures to 51% over the course of the next three years.

Currently, global banks are only allowed to have a 49% interest in such ventures, thus removing their ability to control Chinese-based entities.

The announcements were made by Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao in Beijing, who said authorities are in the process of drafting detailed rules which will be released shortly.

According to reports from Reuters, Zhu said the time is right for China to announce major steps for the opening up of its financial sector.

A short time ago, the CSI300 Financials Index was up 0.83%, adding to the gains seen earlier in the session.

CSI300 Financials Index 1-Minute Chart. Source: Thomson Reuters

The broader CSI300 index tracks movements of the top 300 companies by market capitailisation listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen. So far this year, it’s added over 18%.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index is broadly unchanged in the wake of the announcement, trading up 0.15%.

Today’s announcement follows statements by Chinese authorities on Thursday that restrictions in the country’s banking and financial sector would soon be eased, as Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with US President Trump as part of Trump’s Asia visit.

Guo Shuqing, Chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, flagged potential changes to foreign ownership laws at last month’s National People’s Congress in Beijing, noting that the market share of foreign banks had been falling which wasn’t good for competition.

It marks another step in the gradual integration of China’s economy into global markets. In June, MSCI said it planned to add 222 China A Large Cap stocks to its Emerging Markets Index starting next year, which is likely to drive capital inflows from international institutional investors.

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