China’s Foreign Finance in New Phase: Boosting Investments in Green Belt and Road Initiative

Since 2000, the Chinese government made overseas expansion its national strategy, with the government taking the lead to boost support for related policies.

By Li Lirong

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Since 2000, the Chinese government made overseas expansion its national strategy, with the government taking the lead to boost support for related policies. China has maintained a high level of overseas investment for several decades, accelerating those related to the Green Belt and Road Initiative (Green BRI) in the past few years.

Since China suffered little impact from the global financial crisis, Chinese banks are enjoying increased international presence in recent years. They rank among the top in various global indicators. The Chinese banks are committed to further expand their international operations. Against the backdrop of investment opportunities created by free trade agreements (FTA), infrastructure investment and green financing in response to the Green BRI with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the resulting increase in RMB settlement operations, Chinese banks are expanding their overseas investment and financing businesses.

However, the rise of protectionism and the global COVID pandemic may become headwinds of the overseas expansion in the financial industry. The early subsiding of the pandemic and the rebuilding of U.S.-China relations in international politics will be the key to the sustainable overseas expansion of Chinese banks.

Introduction

In recent years, the Chinese government has shifted stance to support overseas investment, working to improve the investment environment through deregulation. In this context, overseas investments by Chinese financial institutions are becoming more apparent. Viewing the recent trends in overseas investment by Chinese financial institutions, there seem to be roughly five aims:

(1) Develop international businesses in response to companies expanding overseas

(2) Active engagement in mergers and acquisitions of overseas companies (including financial institutions)

(3) Expand global businesses in response to financial liberalization and the rapid RMB internationalization

(4) Investment opportunities created by FTAs and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

(5) Infrastructure investment and green finance in response to AIIB and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

This article classifies China’s recent overseas expansion policies, overseas investment promotion policies, and deregulation and summarizes the current situation of overseas expansion by Chinese banks. We will also review the acceleration of overseas expansion by FTAs and BRI (Green BRI) that has become prominent in recent years, and present an outlook on the future direction.

I. Policy of Government-Led New Overseas Expansion

1. China’s Overseas Expansion Policy

With a major shift to promoting external investment, China’s economic development entered a new stage. The 1990s are called the “Bringing Capital” era, the first stage of attracting foreign investment into China.

After joining the WTO in 2001, the Chinese government reversed its previous tight regulations and launched a policy of promoting foreign investment, known as the “Go Out” policy, the second stage of internationalization.

In 2004, various systems for foreign investment were established, including the examination and approval of foreign investment by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Commerce, and the management of foreign currency by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. In addition, the examination and approval system in foreign investment were changed to a registration and approval system, with more clarity in the specific scope, content, and process of approval.

After the global financial crisis of 2008, China entered the third stage. Chinese companies and financial institutions engaged in overseas investments and M&As and moved on to establish themselves in the global market aiming a full-scale internationalization*1. In 2009, the authority to examine and approve external investment in advance was transferred, approval procedures were simplified, and approval standards were relaxed.

In the fourth stage, starting in 2012, the government launched the “Lead Overseas” policy, aiming to elevate Chinese companies and financial institutions to the world’s top positions. In the current fifth stage since 2015, based on an increase in infrastructure investment and green finance associated with the AIIB and BRI policies, and the resulting expansion of RMB settlement, Chinese financial institutions are highly likely to further speed up their overseas expansion in the future.

2. Announcement of Policy to Promote Overseas Expansion by Financial Institutions

In June 2012, the State Council of China announced the following three points for “promoting financial internationalization.”

The first is to open up the financial market. Specifically, China will expand the range of overseas entities that issue RMB bonds so that international organizations, overseas monetary authorities, and overseas financial institutions meeting certain criteria can invest their RMB funds in China’s domestic financial market.

It will also promote the development of RMB operations and issuing of RMB bonds by Chinese financial institutions overseas. Also, it will support the construction of an international financial center in Shanghai and the enhance Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center.

China will ease securities issuance by Chinese financial institutions overseas and expand the external securities investment destinations for domestic investors. The government will ease regulations on cross-border transactions of other capital items and develop participants in the domestic foreign exchange market.

The second is to promote the internationalization of the RMB. China will steadily open up the capital account and gradually liberalize RMB capital transactions. By promoting RMB settlement in foreign trade, cross-border investment and financing, foreign projects, and foreign labor contracting, China will guarantee smooth implementation of cross-border RMB settlement. China will promote the opening up of the domestic RMB market to the outside world, promote the conclusion of bilateral currency swap agreements, support countries that adopt RMB as a reserve currency, and strengthen RMB’s function as an international reserve currency.

The third is the steady effort to internationalize financial institutions. On condition of business continuity and risk management, China will support the establishment of overseas locations and overseas expansion through M&A by financial institutions that meet the conditions. It will support large commercial banks to improve the quality of their domestic financial services, steadily implement their internationalization strategies, and enhance their capabilities for operation and management of global financial operations. China will promote overseas expansion by financial institutions such as insurance and securities companies.

3. Promotion of Green BRI-Related Overseas Investments

In addition, in 2016, seven state departments, including the People’s Bank of China (PBC), Ministry of Finance, National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Environmental Protection, China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), and China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), jointly issued the “Guiding Opinions on Building a Green Finance System” (Guiding Opinions)*2. It aims to mobilize more private capital not only from banks but also from the securities and insurance markets to encourage participation in green projects.

Specific measures include further boosting green lending, encouraging green investment in the securities market, and establishing a green development fund to promote public-private partnerships (PPP). It also cited promoting green insurance development, developing a market for environment-related options trading, expansion of lending tools, promoting green finance use in rural areas, and strengthening international cooperation.

Regarding the international cooperation of green finance, it stated that within the G20 framework, they will continue to:

(1) Promote the formation of a philosophy for the global development of green finance

(2) Promote and disseminate voluntary guidelines related to green lending and green investment, as well as best practices in other green finance fields

(3) Accumulate knowhow in green finance

It also stated that under BRI, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, China-ASEAN and other regional cooperation mechanisms, South-South Cooperation, AIIB and the BRICS New Development Bank will be utilized to promote green investment by private capital and regional cooperation among countries along BRI in green finance. In the foreign investment project involving Chinese financial institutions, non-financial corporations, and multilateral development institutions including China, overseas investment in green finance will be promoted by:

(1) Strengthening environmental risk management

(2) Ensuring thorough disclosure of environmental information

(3) Expanding financing through green bonds, etc.

In BRI, the Chinese government makes clear its environment-oriented stance. In 2017, it issued the “Guiding Opinions on the Promotion of Green BRI”*3 and “The Plan for Ecological and Environmental Protection Cooperation in BRI”*4 (the Plan).

The Plan sets specific goals until 2025 to realize BRI, including the establishment of a relevant database on the ecological environment, the use of green finance in investment projects, the construction of model industrial bases for environmental protection, and the promotion of environmental technology and personnel exchanges.

In addition, in December 2017, the PBC, together with Bank of England, Banque de France, other central banks and supervisors and observers , launched the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS)*5 to support environmental and climate risk management and sustainable economic development in the financial sector, and strengthened the collaboration with Europe. In October 2019, China also joined the new International Platform on Sustainable Finance (IPSF) led by the EU, which aims to set an international standard for green finance.

II. Chinese Banks Enhance Their Presence and Accelerates Internationalization

Chinese banks have improved their financial footing significantly through financial reforms in recent years. In the British financial magazine “The Banker” (July 2020 issue), 158 banks with Chinese capital were ranked among the top 1,000 world banks (based on Tier 1 capital).

For three years running, the Big Four commercial banks took the top four spots—Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) in first place, China Construction Bank (CCB) in second, Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) in third, and Bank of China (BOC) in fourth. Other Chinese banks are also marking higher rankings, with the Bank of Communications at 11th (11th in 2019), China Merchants Bank at 17th (19th in 2019), and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank at 20th (24th in 2019).

Comparing the financial strength of the world’s top 20 banks as of the end of December 2019, Chinese banks have wide interest margins secured by interest rate regulations with a large gap between lending and deposit rates, high return on equity (ROE) and return on assets (ROA), and low non-performing loans (NPL) ratios.

We can say that Chinese banks have maintained a sound financial structure and have steadily improved their strength (see table). Meanwhile, the rapid internationalization of many Chinese banks and the steady growth of their overseas operations have helped them maintain the powerful performance.

Generally, the number of overseas locations, the size of overseas assets and liabilities, overseas revenue ratio, and the size of foreign currency loans and deposits are used to judge a bank’s internationalization level. According to the International Institute of Finance (IIF) statistics, as of end of 2017, China’s banking industry had 1,350 branches in 63 countries and regions. China’s cross-border loans are the eighth largest in the world, amounting to 630 billion USD, increasing fivefold from 2010.

Meanwhile, cross-border loans for U.S., Japanese, and European banks as of end of 2017 were up only 13%, 35%, and 5% respectively from 2010. The ratio of Chinese banks’ cross-border loans to nominal GDP is about 5%, lower than 12% in the U.S., 14% in EU, 25% in Japan, and 80% in the U.K., but still increasing.

China’s banking industry has internationalized steadily, particularly in the five major commercial banks: ICBC, CCB, BOC, ABC, and Bank of Communications. In recent years, the international business of the five major commercial banks has continued to develop. There seem to be three characteristics in the situation.

First is that the ratio of overseas assets ratio has remained stable, and the contribution of overseas earnings has increased. The total assets (total domestic and overseas assets) of the five major commercial banks as of end of 2019 reached 15.9 trillion USD (1.39 trillion USD domestic and 2.0 trillion USD overseas), about 2.7 times the 6 trillion USD (5.6 trillion USD domestic and 4.0 trillion USD overseas) in 2009*6.

Overseas assets have increased fivefold from 0.4 trillion USD in 2009 to 2 trillion USD in 2019, with the overseas assets ratio in total assets rising roughly to 13% from 7% in 2009. For the five major commercial banks, operating revenue increased 22% and pre-tax profit rose 4% in their overseas operations in 2019*7.

Second is the optimization of the balance in regional development. In recent years, the five major commercial banks have been expanding their locations, mainly in countries along the BRI.

Third is the improved quality of the five major commercial banks’ overseas assets. The five major commercial banks’ bad-debt ratio of the overseas assets is generally low and better than the level in their overall assets. The average NPL ratio of the five major commercial banks as of end of 2019 was in the 1.4% range. In response to changes in overseas market conditions and tighter international regulations, the five major commercial banks have also strengthened their risk management systems and anti-money laundering control operations.

With the recent restructuring at financial institutions in the U.S. and Europe, they are downsizing or withdrawing poor-performing businesses from overseas markets. As the COVID pandemic worsens, global financial institutions are being forced to review their overseas expansion strategies. Helped by the growth over the past decade, China’s major financial institutions had accumulated sufficient capital strength to withstand debt redemption. For China’s large commercial banks that have remained sound with this advantage, the COVID crisis is indeed an opportunity to expand their overseas operations.

III. A New Phase of Overseas Expansion by China’s Banking Industry

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1. Overseas Expansion Through FTAs and BRI

On the back of China’s progress in FTAs and RCEP, as well as the increase in AIIB/BRI infrastructure investment and the resulting expansion of RMB settlement, Chinese financial institutions have a great potential to further speed up their overseas investment in the future.

In November 2015, China’s FTA with Australia and South Korea came into effect. The conclusion of the China-Australia and China-South Korea FTAs will bring closer economic ties and increase investments by Chinese companies in the two countries. In October 2019, the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) Upgrade Protocol entered into force. Then, in November 2020, China signed the RCEP, joining the 15 member countries. With such expansion of trade and investment through various FTAs, Chinese financial institutions are expected to expand their support for RMB settlement operations and financial services.

In 2013, the Chinese government launched the BRI*8 to create business opportunities in the infrastructure field. Including the establishment of the China-led AIIB and the Silk Road Fund (SRF) to support the BRI, demand for large-scale infrastructure investment from the countries and regions along BRI is expected to continue until 2025*9. Many of these countries are emerging or developing nations with strong infrastructure appetite.

According to a forecast by the reinsurer Swiss Re*10, demand from countries along the BRI will exceed 20 trillion USD over the 15 years from 2015 to 2030 for constructing infrastructure, including transportation, energy, telecommunications, domestic water, and sanitation.

Meanwhile, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)*11 adopted at the UN Summit in September 2015 is becoming an important corporate evaluation axis in China too. With rising threats from global climate change and environmental change, the Chinese government has also launched the previously mentioned Green BRI and related policies, such as green finance, to encourage overseas investment by financial institutions.

To realize the construction of Green BRI, it is essential to secure various financing channels and provide funds continuously. To support the Green BRI financially, China has taken the initiative in establishing the aforementioned AIIB and SRF, as well as mobilizing policy banks and commercial banks to provide financial support to Chinese companies.

2. Government Banks Funding Green BRI

The two policy banks, the China Development Bank (CDB) and the Export-Import Bank of China (Eximbank), play an important role in implementing the Green BRI. CDB was established in 1994 as a policy bank directly under the State Council. Through mid- to long-term investments and loans, CDB finances national strategic projects, mainly in railroads, telecommunications, and domestic water supply.

By the end of 2019, CDB’s green credit balance exceeded 2.1 trillion RMB, the largest among Chinese financial institutions. In recent years, the bank is also focusing on investments in sectors including renewable energy, such as wind and solar power generations. In 2017, the bank issued 500 million USD and 1 billion EUR green bonds*12 for the first time to finance investments in renewable energy development and water resource protection projects under the Green BRI. The bonds attracted market interest, with over 200 global institutional investors applying.

For BRI, CDB provides funding not only to Chinese companies operating abroad but also to the local partner governments and companies. As of end of 2018, the bank had loaned over 190 billion USD to over 600 BRI-related projects*13, becoming the largest cumulative loan lender among Chinese banks. Also, in 2007, to promote business investment in Africa, the bank established the China-Africa Development Fund, China’s first external equity fund, through which it invested about 5 billion USD in African projects by the end of 2018.

The Eximbank was established in 1994 as a policy bank directly under the State Council, like the CDB, to promote foreign trade development. The bank mainly provides preferential loans to foreign governments and Chinese companies. Large-scale infrastructure investment projects require a huge amount of capital. Since private investors alone are not enough to meet these needs, preferential loans have become an important funding source for projects.

As of end of 2018, Eximbank’s green credit balance surpassed 250 billion RMB*14. The bank issued 1 billion RMB green bonds in 2016 and 2 billion RMB in 2017 to fund investments in renewable energy, clean energy, and green transportation.

Moreover, the bank participated in about 1,800 BRI projects in April 2019 and loaned over 1 trillion RMB (about 150 billion USD)*15.

In April 2015, SRF fixed its first investment for a hydropower-related project in Pakistan. For the project, SRF took a stake in a subsidiary of the China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG), the construction contractor for the project, and formed a corporate alliance with the Eximbank and others to provide debt financing. Like the CDB, the Eximbank has also established an African investment fund, the China-Africa Industrial Capacity Cooperation Fund *16 in 2018.

It serves the construction of railway network, road network and regional aviation network in Africa as well as its industrialization, covering manufacturing, high-tech, agriculture, energy, mineral, infrastructure, financial cooperation and other areas. It strives to realize the common development and prosperity of China and Africa through capital operation and financial support.

3. Big Four Commercial Banks Funding the Green BRI

Commercial banks have the advantage of extensive overseas networks and abundant expertise in international businesses.

In past years, the Big Four commercial banks have diversified their overseas operations, focusing on investment banking, insurance, financial advisory, and risk management. In line with the government’s green strategy policy, they are also expanding investments in areas such as energy conservation, clean energy, green transportation, and green construction, and are actively raising funds by issuing green bonds.

The Big Four commercial banks play a major role in supporting BRI infrastructure investments. Since the initiative was proposed in 2013, China’s Big Four commercial banks have been actively financing projects related to the Green BRI.

(1) Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world’s largest bank by assets and market capitalization, has established 428 overseas locations in 48 countries and regions around the world as of end of 2019. The bank entered markets in 20 African countries through the acquisition of Standard Bank, the largest bank in South Africa. The total assets of the bank’s overseas operations (including overseas branches/subsidiaries, and Standard Bank investments) amounted to 405.683 billion USD (up 5.6% year-on-year), accounting for 9.4% of its total assets*17.

Aiming to become the world’s top company in the environment area, ICBC developed its own environmental risk management and assessment standards based on the Equator Principles*18 in 2007. The bank has been quick to induce investment in green projects. One example is the introduction of the “one-vote veto system” that allows the bank to refuse lending to high-pollution projects if even one of the environmental evaluation indicators is not met.

As of end of 2019, ICBC’s green credit balance reached 1.35 trillion RMB (up 9.1% year-on-year), second only to CDB. In recent years, the bank has also raised funds actively by issuing green bonds. Following the large 2.15 billion USD green bond*19 launch in September 2017 on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, ICBC successfully issued 1.58 billion USD green bond on the London Stock Exchange in June 2018*20. The funds raised are used for renewable energy projects, energy conservation, sustainable water resource development, and other projects in BRI.

The bank is also strengthening its influence on BRI. At the first BRI International Cooperation Summit Forum in May 2017, the BRI interbank cooperation mechanism was established with ICBC’s proposal. As of April 2019, 85 financial institutions from 45 countries have participated in the mechanism, providing a cumulative total of 42.7 billion USD co-financing for 55 BRI projects.

By end of 2019, ICBC had established 129 locations in 21 countries along the BRI. The bank has opened 60 branches in Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Laos—eight countries among the 10 ASEAN members. It has participated in over 400 BRI-related projects and provided a cumulative total of over 100 billion USD loans.

For example, in April 2015, the bank signed a loan agreement with a local Pakistani company for energy power projects. The total loan amounts to 4.3 billion USD. The four projects, Suki Kinari Hydropower Plant, Dawood Wind Farm, Sahiwal Coal-fired Power Plant, and Thar Coal Power Plant, scattered along the economic corridor connecting China and Pakistan, are important infrastructure projects jointly promoted by the two countries. In July 2018, ICBC, SRF, and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) co-financed the construction of the world’s largest solar thermal power plant in Dubai.

(2) China Construction Bank

In line with the government’s green strategy, China Construction Bank (CCB) has increased lending to sectors such as green transportation and green energy, with the bank’s green credit balance reaching 1.18 trillion RMB (up 13% year-on-year) as of end of 2019.The bad-loan ratio of green loans in 2019 was 0.88%, 1.55 percentage points lower than the bank’s overall average*21. Stating that green financing not only contributes to environmental protection but also improves the bank’s balance sheet, CCB plans to focus on green financing by utilizing fintech and other means.

For overseas business, as of end of 2018, the bank had established over 200 overseas locations in 29 countries. CCB has been involved in 117 related projects in 29 countries along the BRI, mainly in the areas of power generation, transportation, and oil and natural gas exploration, and has underwritten 20.6 billion USD loans*22.

The bank also revealed that it plans over 200 projects, with a total financing requirement of over 110 billion USD. The bank said that these projects are mainly focused on infrastructure facilities such as railroads, energy, and electricity. In line with the BRI, the bank is planning to add another 40 overseas branches in 2020 to expand its business to countries and regions along the BRI. The bank will also focus on expanding its overseas RMB trading business in the areas along the BRI with its advantage as a RMB settlement bank.

(3) Bank of China

In line with BRI, the Bank of China (BOC) formulated its own “Belt and Road Initiative Financial Artery” plan in 2014, supporting related projects. By the end of 2019, the bank had established 557 overseas locations in 61 countries, including 25 countries along the BRI. As of end of 2019, the bank had been involved in over 600 related projects, providing a cumulative total of over 160 billion USD in loans*23 .

BOC also plays an important role in the internationalization of RMB. Through RMB sovereign bonds issuance, the bank promotes the use of RMB along the BRI. In 2019, the bank’s cross-border RMB settlement handled by its overseas locations along the BRI exceeded 4 trillion RMB.

In 2019, BOC developed its own green finance development plan and introduced the BRI Green Investment Principles (GIP). As of end of 2019, the bank had about 737.6 billion RMB green credit balance (up 16.6% year-on-year) and is investing mainly in energy conservation and clean energy businesses.

(4) Agricultural Bank of China

The green credit balance of Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) as of end of 2019 totaled 1.19 trillion RMB, up 13.4% year-on-year*24. Like ICBC, the bank adopts the “one-vote veto system” with tight lending restrictions to companies and businesses failing to meet environmental standards.

ABC’s outstanding overseas assets reached 120 billion USD as of end of 2018 (up 11.8% year-on-year), and the bank established 22 overseas locations in 17 countries (including six along BRI) and one joint venture bank. Since ABC has lagged behind the BOC and ICBC in overseas expansion, it has been working actively with partners instead of opening its own locations. The bank had formed partnerships with about 1,300 banks in 135 countries as of end of 2018, working together to provide financial services such as 24-hour fund settlement to global businesses.

As of end of 2019, the bank had provided over 200 billion USD in lending, letters of credit, agriculture-related trade transactions, and offshore bond issuance to companies operating in 86 countries and regions. This includes a cumulative total of 13.2 billion USD loans in 45 BRI countries*25. In this way, the policy banks and the Big Four commercial banks are actively working to realize the BRI economic zone.

IV. Future Prospects

Faced with growing uncertainty, the overseas expansion of the banking industry will further accelerate through the BRI (Green BRI) and RMB’s internationalization. Since 2017, the rise of protectionism and the political and economic standoff between the U.S. and China have increased uncertainty in the global economy and financial markets, making the business environment for Chinese banks increasingly complex.

While the government’s promotion of the BRI (Green BRI) and the acceleration of RMB internationalization will bring new opportunities, they may also pose additional risks for the Chinese banks if protectionism leads to stricter regulations overseas. The key to controlling these risks will be an early end to the COVID pandemic. It will also depend on how the Chinese government rebuilds its relationship with the new U.S. administration in international politics.


[Notes]

*1 For the deregulation of overseas investment and M&A for Chinese financial institutions and overseas expansion of Chinese banks and insurance companies, refer to Chapter 10 “Overseas Expansion of China’s Financial Industry” in my co-authored book “Learning China’s Financial Economy: Accelerating Mobile Payment and RMB Internationalization”.

*2 “Seven ministries and commissions issued the ‘Guiding Opinions on Building a Green Financial System’ (Yin Fa 2016, issue 228),” State Council, Aug. 31, 2016. (Viewed on Dec. 5, 2020)
http://www.scio.gov.cn/32344/32345/35889/36819/xgzc36825/Document/1555348/1555348.htm

*3 “Guiding Opinions on Promoting Green Belt and Road Construction (International Environment 2017, issue 58),” Environmental Protection Department, Apr. 24, 2017. (Viewed on Dec. 5, 2020)
http://www.mee.gov.cn/gkml/hbb/bwj/201705/t20170505_413602.htm

*4 “BRI Ecological Environmental Protection Cooperation Regulation (International Environment 2017, issue 65),” Environmental Protection Department, May 11, 2017. (Viewed on Dec. 5, 2020)
http://www.mee.gov.cn/gkml/hbb/bwj/201705/t20170516_414102.htm

*5 In addition to the central banks and financial supervisory agencies of 100 countries, 16 international financial institutions, including the Asian Development Bank and the Bank for International Settlements, joined the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) as observers in November 2021. The Bank of Japan officially joined in November 2019.

*6 “Globalisation 2.0 For Chinese Financial Institutions,” Oliver Wyman, 2020, p.5. (Viewed on Nov. 30, 2020)
https://www.oliverwyman.com/content/dam/oliver-wyman/v2/publications/2020/may/globalisation-2.0-for-chinese-financial-institutions_v2.pdf

*7 “Global Banking Industry Outlook (Jul.-Sep. 2020. 43rd period),” Bank of China, Jun. 30, 2020. (Viewed on Nov. 30, 2020)
http://pg.jrj.com.cn/acc/Res/CN_RES/INDUS/2020/6/30/f5e5f478-2ef8-4d0d-893c-fed86600b2d1.pdf

*8 The “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) is a broad economic zone initiative launched by the Xi Jinping administration in 2013. The “Belt” refers to the Silk Road, the overland connection from China to Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. The “Road,” also known as the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, refers to the sea route connecting China and Europe through Southeast Asia and Africa.

*9 “China Outlook 2015,” KPMG, 2015. (Viewed on Dec. 4, 2020)
https://home.kpmg/cn/en/home/insights/2015/01/china-outlook-2015.html

*10 “China’s Belt & Road Initiative, and the impact on commercial Insurance,” Swiss Re October 2016. (Viewed on Dec. 4, 2020)
https://www.swissre.com/dam/jcr:5fe561ba-e741-4f89-8eab-07647c0a9c6a/Expertise_Pub_Chinas’s_Belt_Road_Initiative_and_the_impact_on_commercial_insurance_en.pdf

*11 The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the international goals for a sustainable and better world by 2030, as stated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted at the United Nations Summit in September 2015, succeeding to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) formulated in 2001. It consists of 17 goals and 169 targets, and pledges to “leave no one behind” on the planet.

*12 “CDB Successfully Issuing the First Batch of International Quasi-sovereign Green Bonds,” China Development Bank, Nov. 10, 2017. (Viewed on Dec. 4, 2020).
http://www.cdb.com.cn/English/xwzx_715/khdt/201803/t20180309_4993.html

*13 “China Development Bank: Provided over 190 billion USD for over 600 BRI projects as of end of 2018,” China Securities Network, Apr. 23, 2019. (Viewed on Dec. 4, 2020).
http://www.cs.com.cn/jg/04/201904/t20190423_5942095.html

*14 “Eximbank’s BRI green credit balance exceeds 250 billion RMB,” Xinhua News Agency, Apr. 24, 2019. (Viewed on Dec. 4, 2020).
http://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2019-04/24/content_5385615.htm

*15 “China Exim Bank’s B&R loans surpasses 1 trln yuan,” Xinhua News Agency, Apr. 22, 2019. (Viewed on Dec. 4, 2020).
http://www.xinhuanet.com/fortune/2019-04/18/c_1124385705.htm

*16 China-Africa Industrial Capacity Cooperation Fund, as a medium and long-term development investment fund, was set up based on Company Law with the joint investment of foreign exchange reserve and the Export-Import Bank of China(see from Belt and Road Energy Cooperation).

*17 “ICBC 2019 Annual Report,” ICBC, 2020. (Viewed on Dec. 5, 2020)
http://v.icbc.com.cn/userfiles/Resources/ICBCLTD/download/2020/2019AnnualReport.pdf

*18 The Equator Principles are an international standard for ensuring private financial institutions give full consideration to the impact on the natural environment and local communities when financing large-scale projects. It was established in June 2003 with the cooperation of 10 international financial institutions, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC), ABN Amro, and Barclays Bank. The principles cover a wide range of issues, including pollution prevention and considerations for the local community and the natural environment. As of April 2022, more than 131 financial institutions in 38 countries have adopted the Equator Principles.

*19 “World’s largest bank, ICBC issues first green bond,” Climate Bonds, October 31, 2017. (Viewed Dec. 5, 2020)
https://cn.climatebonds.net/node/84

*20 “ICBC lists largest-ever green bond on London Stock Exchange,” China Daily, Jul. 17, 2018. (Viewed on Dec. 5, 2020)
http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201807/17/WS5b4cd0b4a310796df4df6c37.html

*21 “Strive to be leader of green financial development,” China Finance, Jul. 30, 2020. (Viewed on Dec. 5, 2020)
http://www.ccb.com/cn/ccbtoday/newsv3/20200730_1596073127.html

*22 “CCB provided financial support for 117 projects in 29 countries along the BRI,” China Securities Journal, Apr. 24, 2019. (Viewed on Dec. 5, 2020)
http://www.cs.com.cn/xwzx/hg/201904/t20190424_5942895.html

*23 “Bank of China 2019 Annual Report,” Bank of China, Mar. 27, 2020. (Viewed on Dec. 5, 2020)
https://www.boc.cn/investor/ir3/202003/t20200327_17685441.html

*24 “Agricultural Bank of China 2019 Annual Report,” ABC, Mar. 30, 2020. (Viewed on Dec. 5, 2020)
http://www.abchina.com/cn/AboutABC/investor_relations/report/am/202003/t20200330_1878191.htm

*25 “Agricultural Bank: Practicing the BRI, the main financial force comprehensively helps enterprises ‘go global’,” 21st Century Business Herald, Nov. 30, 2019. (Viewed on Dec. 5, 2020)
http://www.zqrb.cn/jrjg/bank/2019-11-30/A1575063710276.html

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Li, Lirong (2016). “China’s New Overseas Expansion Strategy and Trends of Banks and Insurance Companies: Accelerating Overseas M&A,” Nomura Capital Markets Quarterly 2016 Vol.19-4 Spring, Nomura Institute of Capital Markets Research, May, pp.206-224. (in Japanese)

Li, Lirong (2019), “Overseas Expansion of China’s Financial Industry,” Chapter 10, Learning China’s Financial Economy: Accelerating Mobile Payment and RMB Internationalization, by Ohara, Atsuji, Takeshi Jingu, Hiroshi Ito, and Mon Chin, Minerva Shobo, June, pp.181-202. (in Japanese)

Eurasia Group (2015), “State Financing for One Belt, One Road will be substantial”, October 26.

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Li Lirong
Associate Professor at Graduate School of Asian and International Business Strategy, the Faculty of Urban Innovation, Asia University. Previously, she was a senior economist at the Japan Research Institute. Later she joined the Nomura Institute of Capital Markets Research, Nomura Securities as a senior analyst and vice president, and from 2018 she taught as Associate Professor at Department of Economics, the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Kyoto University of Advanced Science. She holds her Ph.D. (Academic) from Waseda University and specializes in financial theory and international economics. She participates in her writing “Learning China’s Financial Economy: Accelerating Mobile Payment and RMB Internationalization” (in Japanese, from Minerva Shobo, 2019). She has published several other books, academic papers, and articles.

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