China has taken a step further in opening its insurance market to foreign insurers now that Sun Life Everbright Life Insurance Co Ltd, a Sino-Canadian life insurance joint venture was officially launched in this coastal city on Tuesday.
Sun Life Everbright, the first Sino-foreign joint venture life insurance company headquartered in North China's Tianjin, was jointly established by Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, a subsidiary of Sun Life Financial Services and the largest insurance company in Canada and the China Everbright Group, a conglomerate mainly engaged in banking, securities, insurance and investment management.
Last week, American International Assurance opened its branch in Beijing and became the first foreign insurer to offer life insurance services in the Chinese capital.
The opening of the Sun Life Everbright Life Insurance indicates China honours its WTO commitment to open its insurance market to foreign insurers, said Cai Weiguo, director of the Tianjin Office of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission.
The two partners of Sun Life Everbright were granted regulatory approval to begin selling life insurance in Tianjin in April this year.
"We expect our Chinese operations to make an important contribution to our long-term growth plans in Asia," said Donald A. Stewart, chairman and chief executive officer of Sun Life Financial, adding that their 2,000-strong sales force for their non-joint venture operation has been operational in Tianjin for more than a month and the initial sales results are encouraging.
A recent survey shows that about 40 per cent of those surveyed say they favour foreign insurance companies and believe brand name foreign insurers can offer high quality services with good reputations.
"Our joint venture enables us to offer world-class life insurance (services) to satisfy the needs of residents in Tianjin, a vibrant city with well-developed services and technological infrastructure," said Douglas Henck, executive vice-president of Sun Life Financial Asian Operations.
(China Daily June 13, 2002)