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Opinion

How China opened for business

2020 was a breakout year for China’s financial and capital markets. The next 12 months could be just as busy, as regulators rush to approve a host of licences lodged by global financial institutions.

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After the global financial crisis, Beijing led the world out of recession, courtesy of a vast stimulus plan that led to a ballooning of national debt, but also funded a host of projects deemed vital to its long-term interests.

This gave China belief it could build its way to success. To an extent, it did, carpeting the country with high-speed rail – though its plans to remodel global infrastructure, via the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), have been somewhat derailed of late.

But the big factor at work at the start of the 2020s is not China’s economy but its suddenly open and welcoming financial and capital markets.

For the past two decades, Beijing has successfully stalled or stymied efforts by global financial institutions to expand in or break into its market.

For years, fears China would never quite open up persisted. In 2020, it crossed this particular Rubicon

Then it abruptly changed its tune. In January 2020, just as the world was becoming aware of a dangerous new pathogen, mainland regulators agreed to let foreign banks apply to own their onshore securities operations outright, as of April 1.

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