China's immense insurance market has attracted an increasing number of foreign insurance companies and 41 of them have so far established 97 branches in China, according to an official with the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC).
In addition, more than 130 foreign insurance institutions have launched 191 representative offices in the country, said Zhou Yanli, vice chairman of the CIRC, at a conference on financial service and regulation held in Shanghai over the weekend.
Following its commitment to the World Trade Organization, China ceased protection of domestic insurance companies in December of 2004. From then on, foreign insurance companies were allowed to offer polices of health insurance, group insurance and pension insurance for Chinese clients.
UP to August this year, the assets of foreign-funded insurance companies in China accounted for 12.77 percent of the total of China's insurance industry, compared with 2.6 percent a year ago.
Foreign-funded life insurance companies in China reported a total premium of 27.8 billion yuan (US$3.4 billion) in the January-August period this year, accounting for 11.32 percent of the total of the Chinese insurance industry, a hefty growth from 2.3 percent in the same period last year.
China's insurance industry posted an annual growth rate of 30 percent in the past 20-plus years, said Zhou.
At the end of 2004, the total assets of the insurance industry topped US$148 billion, with the working capital exceeding US$140 billion, said Zhou.
The official said that China's income on premium reached 388 billion yuan (47.8 billion dollars) in the first three quarters of 2005, up 15 percent year-on-year.
He forecast a growing momentum for the industry since China's per capita gross domestic product has broken the level of US$1,000.
(Xinhua News Agency October 31, 2005)