China's top five commercial banks granted loans of 1.79 trillion yuan (US$232.5 billion) to 684,300 small enterprises by the end of 2006, up 160.91 billion yuan, or 9.87 percent, from the beginning of the year.
Statistics from the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) show that of the loans to small enterprises, 472.24 billion yuan, or 26.37 percent, was classified as non-performing, down 3.33 percentage points from the beginning of the year.
The five major banks are the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China, the Bank of China, the China Construction Bank and the Bank of Communications.
Wang Zhaoxing, chairman assistant of the CBRC and director of the commission's working team for promoting small enterprise loans, said Thursday that large commercial banks must redirect their management ideas to promote loans to small enterprises.
He said the CBRC always encouraged commercial banks to develop small enterprise loans, which benefited not only small enterprises, but also the banks as many high-quality small enterprises were business targets of incoming foreign banks.
In March this year the CBRC said it was considering a unified classification criteria to define small enterprises, so as to facilitate bank loans for them.
Experts have said the ballooning number of small enterprises in China might be one of the major solutions for the government to solve its increasing employment pressure.
However, many banks are still reluctant to lend to small enterprises, as they expect small, insignificant returns.
Wang said this year the CBRC would improve its assessment system for banking services to small enterprises.
(Xinhua News Agency May 11, 2007)