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ICBC: Hold the line

The worst is over, but bad loans are back on the agenda at China’s largest lender.

Chen Siqing, chairman of ICBC

It was a tough first 18 months in charge for Chen Siqing, who was appointed party secretary and chairman of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in April 2019. In that time, the head of China’s largest bank has had to deal with an intransigent US president, a trade war between the two superpowers and a global pandemic.

Despite all that, ICBC looks to be in pretty good shape.

In its 2020 interim report, the bank did a neat job of summarizing the struggles it faced in the early months of this year, when Covid struck and the country reeled. In it, a bank rarely given to expressing emotion, described the pandemic as “complicated” and “severe”.

Its description of Covid as a “major battle and test” drew comparisons with the raised-fist salute the government rolled out on posters around the nation when Sars, another born-in-China pandemic, struck in 2002.


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