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China needs a single regulator

If China’s capital markets are to mobilize funds a simpler, more coordinated regulatory system is imperative.

Chinese bank executives, government officials and regulators observing the meltdown of the western financial system might be forgiven for regarding with bemusement delegates from that system who advise them on how China’s financial markets should be run. Although executives such as Zhu Min from Bank of China speak with sincerity of the lessons they have learnt from western financial institutions and of the sound advice they have received from their foreign stakeholders, there is now a feeling when talking to bankers in Beijing that they are in a stronger position than their international peers.

Foreign banks and lobbyists offering advice on the reform of Chinese markets might also be expected to have their own interests at heart. However, despite this and the reduced status of western financial markets, China might benefit from some of the advice that is being offered as its developing capital markets gear up to the challenge of supporting Chinese companies in a slowdown.

Chief among the banking recommendations of the European business in China position paper, issued by the European Chamber, is that China should establish a single body that can coordinate the activities of the country’s numerous regulatory authorities. The SEC in the US and the Financial Services Authority in the UK would be the closest equivalents of the proposed new regulatory overseer, and neither institution has emerged blameless from the crisis.

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