"Big Four" banks in full drive to build China into a financial powerhouse

(Xinhua) 10:19, December 08, 2023

BEIJING, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- China's "Big Four" commercial banks, who are among the world's largest lenders, are stepping up efforts to better support the national economy while enhancing risk management amid the country's efforts to build itself into a financial powerhouse.

Exclusive interviews with heads of the four state-owned lenders -- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), Bank of China (BOC) and China Construction Bank (CCB) -- revealed the priorities of these lenders.


To develop China into a financial powerhouse, its financial industry is in urgent need of transition from "big" to "strong," said Ge Haijiao, chairman of BOC.

At the macro level, an adaptable, competitive and inclusive modern financial system with Chinese characteristics should be established to enhance the comprehensive strength and international influence of the sector, said Chen Siqing, chairman of ICBC.

At the micro level, a large number of world-leading modern financial enterprises should be nurtured, Chen added.

Financial institutions, especially large state-owned ones, must plan and adjust their businesses in accordance with the national goal as they seek to strengthen their market and global influence, Ge said.

These institutions should focus on the actual needs of business entities, enhance the ability of risk prevention and continue to fine-tune the comprehensive risk management system, said Tian Guoli, chairman of CCB.

Gu Shu, chairman of ABC, said major state-owned commercial banks should focus on constantly deepening supply-side structural reform by optimizing business and financing structures, and actively participate in the high-level opening up of the financial sector by offering better services to help domestic firms go global and overseas companies enter the Chinese market.


The heads of the four big lenders all attached great importance to the role of financial institutions in promoting the country's high-quality development.

Placing special emphasis on the demands of the real economy, the banks have made solid progress in key fields and vowed to further optimize services in science and technology (sci-tech), green, inclusive, elderly-care and digital financing.

For example, CCB's outstanding green loans exceed 3.6 trillion yuan (about 505.79 billion U.S. dollars) at present, which strongly supports the low-carbon transformation of traditional industries and companies in key areas including energy conservation and clean energy, Tian said.

Its balance of inclusive loans is over 3 trillion yuan, with the compound annual growth rate more than 40 percent over the past five years.

By the end of September, ABC's outstanding loans to strategic emerging industries had exceeded 1.9 trillion yuan, a jump of more than 54 percent from the beginning of this year.

Meanwhile, as of the end of October, BOC's outstanding sci-tech loans had surged 34.08 percent from the beginning of 2023.

In the next step, CCB will actively support high-end, intelligent and green development of the manufacturing industry, and private businesses. It will customize supply-chain financial service solutions for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, Tian said.

It will also continuously improve the level of comprehensive financial services for the China-Europe Railway Express, and fully support the globalization of high-quality enterprises in the fields of new energy, green and low carbon.

As the most globalized Chinese commercial bank with a presence in 64 countries and regions around the world, BOC will strive to play its role as a financial nexus by promoting cooperation in global industrial and supply chains and continuously expanding cooperation with global financial partners, Ge said.

The bank will also raise the level of cross-border financial services, especially cross-border RMB services, and facilitate cross-border investment and financing to ramp up China's financial opening up, Ge added.


Talking about risk management work in the future, Tian said CCB will constantly improve the comprehensive, proactive and intelligent modern risk management system, and continue to do a good job in countercyclical management of financial risks under the new situation.

Concerning local debt risks, Chen from ICBC noted that a variety of market-oriented measures should be taken to support local governments in reducing debt costs and easing debt-repayment risks, so as to form a long-term mechanism for preventing and defusing risks.

BOC will further improve its diversified toolbox to support local governments' efforts in resolving existing debts and strictly controlling debt increments, Ge said.

At the same time, the bank will help improve the self-development capabilities of local governments. It will proactively support their activities, such as overseas investment promotions, project matchmaking, and important exhibitions, as well as beefing up services for local sci-tech innovation and micro and small enterprises.

With regard to risks in the property market, efforts should be made to meet the reasonable financing needs of real estate enterprises with different forms of ownership, as well as vigorously supporting people's inelastic home-buying demand and needs for improving housing conditions, Chen said.

To promote the healthy development of the real estate sector, CCB will offer sound financial services to ensure the delivery of housing projects. It will also hold symposiums involving enterprises to support the reasonable financing needs of real estate firms in order to promote the stable transition of the sector into a new development model, Tian said.

Ge added that BOC will actively optimize its credit structure for the real estate market and provide financial support for home rentals, renovation of shanty towns in cities, and affordable housing projects.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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