New group to discuss financial issues

SHANGHAI • China's top leaders have gathered every five years since 1997 for a National Financial Work Conference. At past gatherings, they have created entire regulatory agencies and rearranged the rules for huge markets, almost overnight.

But the results of the two-day work conference, which ended last Saturday afternoon, were much more modest. The biggest accomplishment appeared to be an announcement that a commission would be established under the auspices of the Cabinet. The commission would meet regularly to discuss issues of financial stability.

The leaders of various financial regulatory agencies already meet regularly at the offices of the State Council, which is China's Cabinet, although these meetings are not officially at the level of a commission.

Before the conference, some economists speculated that the State Council meetings might be moved to the central bank.

The central bank also has a history of advocating broader financial reforms than the other principal financial regulatory agencies: the China Banking Regulatory Commission, the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the China Insurance Regulatory Commission.

But the leaders did not move the meetings away from the State Council's offices to the central bank. And the result of the conference fell far short of predictions that the regulatory agencies might become clearly subservient to the central bank.

The statement that accompanied the end of the conference did mention that the central bank had a role to play in preventing systemic financial risk. That is already the role of central banks in many countries.

Mr Gary Liu, president of research group China Financial Reform Institute, said he was sceptical of the new commission, noting that it would lack legal powers and have very few staff members.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2017, with the headline 'New group to discuss financial issues'. Print Edition | Subscribe