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China’s banks help finance economic recovery

China’s ‘Big Six’ state-owned commercial banks have seen a surge in loans to customers in the first nine months of this year, in an effort to stabilize the economy rocked by the Covid pandemic and global factors including soaring energy costs and the war in Ukraine.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICB) has increased its credit supply, releasing more than 5 trillion yuan ($695 billion) of new investments and financing into the economy in the first three quarters of 2022. This includes loans and bond investments, the bank said in an announcement released on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

By the end of September 2022, ICBC had increased domestic renminbi loans by 2.2 trillion yuan, compared with the whole of the previous year. The growth was 457.3 billion yuan more than that of the same period last year.

As of 30 September, its loans to the manufacturing industry had increased by more than 810 billion yuan, or 37.5%, from the end of last year. And loans to strategic emerging industries exceeded 1.6 trillion yuan, up almost 60% over the same period. Its green loans were up by 950 billion yuan, or 34%.

China Construction Bank Corp (CCB) has also increased lending in the first nine months of this year, focusing on key and weaker areas in the economy. At the end of Q3, the bank’s loans amounted to almost 20 trillion yuan, an increase of 2.1 trillion yuan from the end of last year.

CCB loans to manufacturing businesses hit 2.2 trillion yuan, up 32% from the end of 2021; loans to businesses in the infrastructure sector reached 5.66 trillion yuan, up nearly 580 billion yuan.

The Bank of China said it has introduced 42 measures to support the economy. By the end of the third quarter, loans to customers had increased by 1.69 trillion yuan, or almost 11%, from the beginning of the year to 17.41 trillion yuan.

Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of Communications announced their loans grew by 2.2 trillion yuan and 644.4 billion yuan respectively, in the first three quarters. Postal Savings Bank of China also said its total loans to customers reached 7.15 trillion yuan at the end of the third quarter, up almost 11% on the previous year-end.

Shao Ke, a senior researcher at the Bank of China Research Institute, said: “The Chinese banking sector has proactively responded to policies aiming to stabilize the economy and continuously intensified efforts to assist enterprises in overcoming difficulties. It increased credit supply to ensure targeted support for the real economy and consolidate the foundation of economic recovery.”

 

While the banks’ lending has helped the Chinese economy stabilise, more effort is needed to grow the economy, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told delegates to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which took place recently.

 

Li stressed that efforts should be made to promote high-quality development and continue to develop a modern economic system.

 

A leading economist told Congress that progress had been made, with the Chinese economy rebounding significantly in the third quarter of 2022. Zhao Chenxin, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said major indicators showed that China’s economic performance “remained outstanding compared with the rest of the world”.

 

Zhao said that although the country’s economy had experienced turbulence in 2022, due to the pandemic, extreme weather and global economic conditions, the overall trend of recovery has continued.

 

He said industrial production, the services industry, investment and consumption have all been recovering. Zhao said: “The overall momentum of recovery and development has been maintained with the implementation of economic stabilization packages and follow-up policies, and the solid progress in coordinating epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development.”

 

The third-quarter GDP figure is expected to reflect this rebound, after economic growth slowed to a 0.4% in the second quarter of 2022. In the first quarter, China’s GDP growth was 4.8%.