Regulate or let loose?
A debate over whether to deregulate China's financial sector was put into the limelight at the 2013 BFA.
Deregulating the financial sector will spur innovation, which is badly needed for the country's budding financial market. However, it may also bring risks, similar to what caused the 2008 financial crisis, said panelists at the BFA.
"Generally speaking, China's financial sector is a developing, emerging and fledging one, which on the one hand requires less government regulation to stir innovation, and on the other calls for risk control," said Wang Yincheng, President of PICC Life Insurance Co. Ltd., one of China's largest insurers.
Zhang Dongning, deputy head of the Bank of Beijing, said that it's all about finding the right balance between deregulation and risk control.
"The government should step back from things that it shouldn't regulate," he said.
"Specifically speaking, the government should be responsible for three things: establishing a fair market environment, stipulating financial market regulations in line with the rule of economic development instead of out of the will of leaders, and finally awarding regulation-abiding enterprises and diminishing those that don't respect rules."
Rodney Ward, Chairman of Asia Pacific Global Corporate and Investment Banking with the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, called for more room for foreign banks in China's financial market.
"I'd like to see a much more dynamic financial market with the participation of foreign players," he said.
"I think private capital can play a more active role in the process of China's financial reform, if major international banks are allowed to collaborate with local banks in small and micro lending businesses, which China needs to promote," Ward told Beijing Review during an interview.
In terms of simmering risks, Ward expressed his optimism.
"I am absolutely overwhelmed by the extraordinary progress that China has made in reforming its banking market during the past decades," said Ward. "China has made remarkable progress by creating the current financial system from nothing. I believe in China's ability to adapt, and adapt fast.
"If anybody is going to find the right balance, it's got to be China."