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China policy round-up: China bans foreigners but lifts Hubei lockdown, AMCs get more oversight, provinces roll out measures to boost consumption

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By Rebecca Feng
27 Mar 2020

In this round-up, China will block foreigners from entering the country starting Saturday, residents of Hubei are allowed to leave the province after two months of being under lockdown and the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission is setting up a holding company to manage state-owned asset management companies.

The Chinese foreign ministry said late on Thursday that the country will ban almost all foreigners – apart from diplomats and people who are coming for “necessary economic, trade, scientific and technological activities, and for urgent humanitarian needs” – from entering the country, effective from Saturday. Foreigners will not be allowed to enter even if they have valid visas and work permits.

The foreign ministry said this is a necessary, but temporary step.

The news comes as China continues to see a rise in imported cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus. There were 54 imported cases on Thursday among a total of 55 newly confirmed cases, according to the official website of the Chinese health commission.

On Wednesday, China had seen a total of 67 new cases, all of which were imported.

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China lifted the lockdown on the Hubei province on March 25. However, Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei, will remain in lockdown for another two weeks, the provincial government said on Tuesday.

Those leaving Hubei must have a “green code” issued by provincial authorities on their mobile phones. The province has told all residents to obtain the colour-based QR code.

A red code is assigned to people who have been confirmed as symptomatic or asymptomatic Covid-19 patients, suspected to have contracted the virus or have a fever. Close contacts of people with a red code will receive the yellow code. The rest will get a green code.

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Chinese regulators are planning to set up a holding company to oversee state-owned asset management companies (AMCs), local media Caixin reported, citing a source. The head of the holding company will be given an administrative rank equivalent to a deputy minister.

By doing so, the regulator is hoping to improve the management of national AMCs as well as to separate the risks stemming from AMCs from the Ministry of Finance, which is the largest shareholder of all four national AMCs.

The news followed a press briefing given by Zhou Liang, a deputy head of CBIRC, last week. Zhou said in the briefing that the regulator is developing a reform plan for national AMCs. 

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The State Council urged provinces and cities to boost consumption in a Tuesday executive meeting.

Businesses, cities and provinces heeded the call. Alipay is giving away 10m discount tokens for 10,000 online retailers. Online retailer JD.com will also give out Rmb1.5bn ($212m) of coupons, local media reported.

The cities of Hangzhou, Jinan and Ningbo have issued coupons and vouchers worth Rmb20bn, Rmb30bn and Rmb20bn respectively to consumers, state media Xinhua reported.

The Zhejiang and Jiangxi provinces have mandated a 2.5-day weekend, according to separate notices on the provincial governments’ websites.

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The CBIRC issued rules on Wednesday specifying the range of assets insurance companies can invest in. The new rules will take effect on May 1.

The rules stipulate that insurers can invest in asset management products in government bonds, central bank bills corporate bonds, deposits, interbank deposits certificates, mutual funds, securities and other equity assets.

Previously, there was only one set of sweeping regulation, issued in 2018, which covered all financial institutions.

By Rebecca Feng
27 Mar 2020