China Cracks Down on Cross-Border Financial Flows, Offshore Trading


Key Takeaways

  • China on Thursday ordered domestic securities firms with offshore operations to stop taking on mainland investors as clients, as part of a crackdown against offshore trading.
  • Chinese securities firms’ overseas units have been ordered to stop any marketing or outreach aimed at mainland investors, and to close all avenues for creating accounts.
  • The move comes amid a worsening financial landscape for China, including a weakening yuan and a property sector crisis, and could be designed to prevent capital outflows.

Chinese securities firms with offshore operations on Thursday were told to stop taking on mainland investors as clients, part of a crackdown on offshore trading.

In a notice, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) ordered all overseas units of domestic securities firms to stop any marketing or outreach aimed toward mainland investors and to shut down all methods for creating accounts. Firms have until the end of the month to comply with the ruling.

It’s a move designed to crack down on cross-border financial flows and close regulatory loopholes that have allowed firms to engage in extensive offshore trading. Actions that were once common, like cross-border securities lending, fund sales, and consulting, are now illegal under the CSRC’s revised investment laws.

China’s Brewing Financial Crisis

The crackdown comes amid a challenging financial and economic period for China, as rising debt, a real estate crash, and a demographic crisis loom over the economy.

China’s currency—the yuan—is also trading near all-time lows against the dollar. Policymakers could be aiming to shore up capital and prevent the yuan from depreciating further.

“We believe the main policy purpose is to curb capital outflows, especially in the context of yuan depreciation pressure,” Shujin Chen, head of China financial and property research at the brokerage firm Jefferies, said in an interview with Reuters.

Valued at more than a quarter of gross domestic product (GDP), China’s real estate sector has been a key driver of the country’s economic growth in recent decades, and a major contributor to its slowdown recently. In August, Chinese property developer Evergrande filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the U.S., almost two years after the real estate titan defaulted on its debt.

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