The Chinese government announced yesterday in Beijing that they have reversed a half century policy of excluding foreigners and foreign companies from investing in the lucrative insurance industry in China. The latest statistics show that on average a Chinese male in his mid-30’s holds nearly a quarter of a million dollars in various life insurance policies, and that females in their 30’s are coming close to that same benchmark. Most financial experts agree that the large mass of Chinese people are still extremely cautious and determined to ‘saving for a rainy day’ — since many can still remember the chaos and famine of the Cultural Revolution fifty years ago.
Although Beijing said the policy change would take place quickly, insurance experts in Asia cautioned that it still may take several years for foreign investors to reap any benefit from the Chinese insurance market; even with the best intentions, the Chinese bureaucracy is an immense labyrinth that has trained itself to move sluggishly and to require everything in triplicate, even in this paperless internet age.
In a related matter, Beijing also announced that starting in 2020 foreign investors will no longer need approval for conducting business using the local currency — both the yuan and the renminbi.