TAKE A HIKE! An investor smiles upon seeing stocks go up on the first trading day after the release of a guideline promoting China's capital market development
The State Council, China's cabinet, issued a guideline on May 9 on promoting development of the capital market, including an array of principles regarding the stock market, bond market, futures market, private equity market and further opening up the capital market. Market observers think this guideline will have a far-reaching influence on the long-term sound development of China's capital market.
Composed of nine clauses, this guideline has also been dubbed the "New Nine Measures" to differentiate it from the one published in 2004.
Wang Yong, an analyst with CITIC Securities Co. Ltd., said that the "Old Nine Measures" released in 2004 focused on split share reform, while the new one aims to build up a sound market system.
"The New Nine Measures has laid a clear blueprint for the reform, opening up, development and supervision of the capital market. This is currently the most pressing task for China's capital market," Wang said.
Demand for reform
Why is China releasing such a document at this time? A press release from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said this guideline is designed to comprehensively deepen the reform of the capital market and has made overall planning and arrangement on the reform, opening up, development and supervision of the capital market in this new period.
Since the Old Nine Measures was issued in 2004, the basic system and institutions of China's capital market have been primarily established, and a multi-layer market structure is almost in place. However, the country's capital market still cannot meet the requirement that "the market plays a decisive role in resource allocation," as put forth by the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held in November 2013. This is also a major reason why China's stock market has continued to fluctuate heavily in recent years.
According to the CSRC, China's stock market is still relatively young and has not yet fully matured, with some systematic and institutional problems still existing and fresh problems emerging. For example, the market system is not yet sound, institutions still need further improvement, and market operations are not stable. "These problems have influenced the long-term stable and healthy development of the capital market. Therefore, we must adopt effective measures to solve them," said the CSRC press release.
According to the release, since China is in a new period of comprehensively deepening reform, promoting development of the capital market will be conducive to building up a diversified investment and financing platform corresponding to reality in China. Meanwhile, it will broaden the investment and financing channels for corporations and individuals, and better satisfy the demands of increasingly diversified investment, financing and risk management, so as to allow the market to play a decisive role in resource allocation. The plan will help further enrich the varieties of investment products in the capital market, broadening the channels for individuals to gain more property income. It will also be conducive to optimizing the structure of the financial market, increasing the proportion of direct financing, improving stability of the financial market operations and enhancing its ability to prevent risks.
The CSRC press release said that against this backdrop, the State Council has issued the new guideline, which details the overall provisions for promoting sound development of the capital market. It reflects the close attention of the Chinese leadership to the reform and development of the capital market and is of great significance to gaining a common understanding of the steps needed to advance this reform.
More open market
Sun Jianbo, a researcher with China Galaxy Securities Co. Ltd., said China's capital market is less open than the country's real economy. The new guideline requires to "promote two-way opening of the capital market and orderly increase the convertibility for cross-border capitals and financial transactions," making clear the measures to further open the capital market.
"The New Nine Measures will first facilitate cross-border investment and financing for both domestic and foreign companies," Sun said.
In the stock exchanges of Shanghai and Shenzhen, the only two bourses on the Chinese mainland, shares held by qualified foreign institutional investors (QFIIs) account for less than 2 percent of the total market value. But in other stock markets worldwide, shares held by overseas investors range from 25 percent to 45 percent of total market value. Moreover, China's domestic institutions and individuals have no convenient channels to invest in overseas markets. To address this, the new guideline proposes to expand the scope of QFIIs and qualified domestic institutional investors (QDIIs) and to raise the quota and ceiling of their investments. China will also allow foreign individual investors to directly invest in the country's capital market and allow domestic individual investors to directly invest in foreign capital markets in a systematic way. The country will also establish and improve systems to protect the rights and interests of individual investors in making cross-border investment and financing.