On Wednesday China's State Council issued new regulations on foreign-funded banks which will come into effect on December 11. This is the date China is expected to fully open its banking sector to foreign competition.
The new regulations, signed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, were approved at the 155th executive meeting of the State Council last Wednesday.
The new regulations lift restrictions on Reminbi and foreign-currency transactions by solely foreign-funded and Sino-overseas joint venture banks.
Chinese branches of foreign banks, however, are banned from engaging in Renminbi services with Chinese citizens unless an individual, having obtained the approval of the banking regulatory body, makes a fixed deposit of no less than one million yuan (US$127,000).
Solely foreign-funded banks and joint venture banks must have a minimum registered capital of one billion yuan (US$120 million) or the equivalent in hard foreign currencies. Chinese branches of foreign banks are required to have a minimum operating fund of 200 million yuan (US$240,000) or the equivalent in hard foreign currencies.
Foreign financial institutions, who apply to set up solely-owned banks in China, must have had no less than US$10 billion in total assets at the end of the previous year. Foreign banks who seek to set up branches must have at least US$20 billion in total assets at the end of the previous year.
The regulations also apply to financial institutions registered in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
(Xinhua News Agency November 16, 2006)