Beijing 'fully focused' on economic growth, with Hong Kong's capital markets a crucial enabler: top regulators

Beijing remains "fully focused" on economic growth and is committed to making Hong Kong an even stronger international financial centre to help achieve that goal, China's top financial regulators said during a global finance summit in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

"Hong Kong has great potential in deepening connections with the mainland financial market, financing and investing under the Belt and Road initiative, fintech and green finance," Yi Gang, governor of the People's Bank of China, told attendees of the Global Financial Leaders' Investment Summit.

The city has the full support of the country's central bank to maintain its law-based, open, inclusive and enabling business environment, he said while appearing in a pre-recorded video at the biggest gathering of global finance heavyweights in the city in three years.

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Yi, together with Xiao Yuanqi, vice-chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), and Fang Xinghai, vice-chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), discussed the positions of China and Hong Kong amid global economic headwinds in the video, which was shown during a public forum on the second day of the summit organised by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

A pre-recorded dialogue between the Hong Kong Monetary Authority's chief executive Eddie Yue Wai-man (left) and the People's Bank of China governor Yi Gang (right) during the Global Financial Leaders' Investment Summit in Hong Kong on November 2, 2022. Photo: Enoch Yiu alt=A pre-recorded dialogue between the Hong Kong Monetary Authority's chief executive Eddie Yue Wai-man (left) and the People's Bank of China governor Yi Gang (right) during the Global Financial Leaders' Investment Summit in Hong Kong on November 2, 2022. Photo: Enoch Yiu>

"China's monetary policy stays accommodative to support the real economy this year to better support economic growth," Yi said. Monetary policy has been calibrated to provide ample liquidity and lower financing costs, he added.

"We try to utilise the structural monetary policy tools providing financial support to key areas such as agriculture, small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as green development," he said. "Right now, we are also working on supporting investment in capital expenditure and infrastructure. It will show up in fourth-quarter data."

To achieve the high-quality economy that the country is aiming for, China's securities regulator underscored Hong Kong's crucial role.

"For high-quality economy, you must have a high-quality capital market," Fang said. "We are in full speed of building up a high-quality capital market at home, but that takes some time. And Hong Kong is already a high-quality capital market. So for China's economic growth, we need Hong Kong."

Fang said the CSRC is supporting the central government's initiative to make Hong Kong's financial markets stronger.

The CSRC said in September that it will work with Hong Kong authorities to expand the eight-year-old Stock Connect scheme to give mainland Chinese traders access to the shares of Hong Kong-listed overseas companies for the first time. The regulator is also studying a plan to create a special trading counter in Hong Kong for yuan-denominated stocks to facilitate the internationalisation of the Chinese currency.

The remarks came as ongoing Covid outbreaks, interest rate increases and geopolitical uncertainties are hobbling global economies.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party's recent 20th congress raised concerns about China's focus on economic growth and possible threats to the policy certainty the foreign business community cherishes, sending stocks into a tailspin.

"We are fully focused on economic growth ... with market-based reform and opening up to the rest of the world," Fang said. "President Xi [Jinping] emphasised the centrality of economic growth during the party congress. That has been the case in China and will continue to be the focus for China for the foreseeable future."

Xiao of CBIRC, the country's top banking and insurance watchdog, sounded a similar note about the country opening up to foreign banks and investors.

"The Chinese financial markets and the foreign parties have been playing one more important role," he said. "They were continually encouraged to have cooperation and collaboration with Chinese counterparts."

President Xi pledged support for greater integration of Hong Kong and Macau into national development plans last month during the twice-a-decade party conference.

Xi underscored the critical role of Hong Kong as he mapped out China's direction over the next five years and beyond, and guaranteed full support for Hong Kong to develop its economy, improve people's livelihoods and resolve "deep-seated conflicts" in its economic and social development.

"Now Hong Kong is at a new stage of moving from chaos to governance, and then from governance to greater prosperity ... The next five years will be crucial for Hong Kong to break new ground and launch a new take-off," Xi told more than 2,000 delegates on October 16.

Earlier on Wednesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu opened the summit with a keynote address to the more than 200 international and regional leaders attending the summit, who represent around 120 global financial institutions including banks, securities firms, asset managers, private equity and venture capital firms, hedge funds and insurers.

Hong Kong "remains the only place in the world [where] global advantages and the China advantage come together in a single city," Lee said. "Opportunity and timing, right here, right now in Hong Kong. This is the moment you have been waiting for; go for it. Get in front, not behind."

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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