China should ease regulations for foreign financial institutions – HSBC executive

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China should ease regulations so that foreign financial institutions can obtain licenses and raise deposits more easily in the country, a senior executive from HSBC (L:) (HK:) said on Sunday.

Peter Wong, deputy chairman and chief executive of HSBC’s Asia Pacific operations, also told a financial summit in Shanghai that China needs to improve corporate governance and investor protection to mitigate systemic risks.

“We really don’t want to have another situation … similar to the Lehman crisis in China,” Wong said, referring to the collapse of the U.S. bank that helped trigger the global financial crisis in 2008.

China has stepped up opening its giant financial industry amid a bruising trade war with the United States. Earlier this month, regulators announced a firm timetable to fully open its futures, brokerage and mutual fund sectors to foreign investors in 2020.

Wong said relaxed foreign ownership rules are very important for HSBC, which, in addition to its banking business, also owns insurance, asset management and brokerage ventures in China.

But other regulations also need to be relaxed, he said, for example to allow HSBC to expand its insurance business more easily into new cities and provinces in China.

Another obstacle, Wong said, is that “it’s very difficult for foreign banks to get deposits in China” due to very stringent requirements, so China should “figure out a way” to help them.

“We’ve been trying for a number of years. Now we’re developing, we’re increasing our share, but the journey is not easy,” he said.

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