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Meeting offers key insight on reforms

By Chen Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-24 06:46

Meeting offers key insight on reforms

Chen Jia [Photo/China Daily]

Five years ago, I was reporting on the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, recording new signals of the country's financial sector development.

And 10 years ago, I was studying finance in Scotland, the home of Adam Smith's modern economics theory, reading a newspaper reporting the collapse of Lehman Brothers in Wall Street.

Instead of being a financial practitioner sitting in a five-star office building in Beijing's central business district, I have chosen to be a news reporter to closely watch the fast development of China's financial sector.

It was a remarkable opportunity for me to join a group discussion at the congress attended by top-level monetary policymakers, capital market regulators and executives of the largest commercial banks to evaluate development in the world's second-largest economy's financial sector and lay out a blueprint for the "new era" in building socialism with Chinese characteristics.

I tried not to miss a single word said by the delegates, writing down as much as I could, while forming an increasingly long list of questions in my mind.

What is the logic behind the policies to develop China's financial sector? Will China build another Wall Street to compete with the Western world? Does the current debt burden really threaten overall economic stability?

Incredibly, I got a chance to question Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the central bank, before the end of the group discussion, when I was still counting all my questions.

The potential systematic risks facing China, the possible measures that could reduce the debt ratio, and the risk of a corporate debt hike-these questions jumped out of my mouth before I realized it might be impossible for the governor to provide the answers.

More incredibly, Zhou, who has chaired the People's Bank of China for nearly 15 years and was one of the key designers of the country's financial reform road map, answered all of the questions.

As one of the world's most popular central bankers, Zhou won praise on the global stage as China successfully tackled the 1997 Asian financial crisis, avoided devastating financial market fluctuation during the global financial hurricane that started since 2007, and got the yuan into the International Monetary Fund's basket of reserve currencies in October last year.

As highlighted in the report presented at the 19th CPC National Congress by General Secretary Xi Jinping, reform of the investment and financing systems will be deepened, and investment will play a more important role in improving the supply structure.

A framework of regulation underpinned by monetary policy and macro-prudential policy is expected as the foundation for the next five year's financial work, and the leaders have pledged to improve the regulatory system to forestall systemic financial risks.

It is also expected that both interest rates and exchange rates will become more market-oriented, and the country's financial sector will strengthen its connection with the global capital market.

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