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What makes a modern Chinese bank?

Commitments to green finance and digitalisation are now at the heart of serving the real economy

Green Space, Lujiazui Central, Shanghai, China

China’s leading banks have long been known for the financing and support that they have given to the growth of the nation’s economy, helping to drive the development of China to become the world’s second largest country in GDP terms, at $18tn, or around 18% of the global economy.

In recent years, the role of Chinese banks has evolved in line with the evolution of China’s strategic, transformative economic goals, supporting digitalisation, sustainability and inclusion, and connecting China with the rest of the world.

Leading this evolution has been China Construction Bank, which announced its annual results on April 2, 2024. CCB has enormous reach within and outside China. The total number of individual customers reached 757 million, and financial assets of individual customers under management exceeded RMB 18.50 trillion. CCB also has more than 10.8m corporate and institutional customers.

 

Among the highlights of its achievements over the previous 12 months, CCB showed impressive leadership in a number of areas.

Financing the digital future:
CCB resolutely served the technology and finance, made innovative use of sci-tech innovation evaluation tools, continuously increased financial support for technology companies, and accelerated the cultivation of new quality productive forces. Science and technology loans amounted to RMB 1.53 trillion, up by 24.13%. It vigorously developed digital finance and helped promote the integration of the digital and real economies; the balance of loans to core industries of the digital economy amounted to nearly RMB 700 billion.

Making China’s economy more sustainable:

At the end of 2023, the Bank’s green loan balance amounted to RMB3.88 trillion, an increase of RMB1.13 trillion, or 41.19% over 2022. The Bank allocated more financial resources to green and low-carbon industries, with the balance of RMB green bond investment and foreign currency green bond investment increased by 70.15% and 117.32% respectively over 2022. It focused on the investment and financing needs of transformation, and innovated diversified green financing channels. In 2023, the Bank underwrote 36 tranches of green debt financing instruments for non-financial enterprises, with an underwriting volume of RMB29,143 million. It also issued multiple tranches of green bonds, with an amount equivalent to more than RMB24 billion. CCB Principal Asset Management held green bonds amounted to RMB2.5 billion, and made a total of RMB27.6 billion of equity investment in multiple industries such as clean energy, energy conservation and environmental protection, clean production, and infrastructure green upgrading. CCB Financial Leasing continuously increased the size and proportion of its green assets, with the green leasing assets amounting to RMB47.3 billion, the proportion of which in the general leasing business increased by 8.77 percentage points over 2022.

Promoting cross-border trade and the role of the renminbi:

The Bank steadily and prudently pressed ahead with RMB internationalisation. In terms of helping finance open to the outside world at a high level, trade financing reached RMB 1.82 trillion, and cross-border RMB settlement exceeded RMB 4 trillion in the whole year. It actively promoted the construction of overseas RMB market, and CCB London Branch continued to be the largest RMB clearing bank outside Asia with a cumulative clearing amount of over RMB87 trillion.

Providing opportunities to SMEs:

CCB increased its efforts to provide services for small and medium-sized enterprises that use special and sophisticated technologies to produce novel and unique products and sci-tech innovation enterprises to support the development and growth of private economy and private enterprises.

 Advancing financial inclusion:

CCB maintained its position as China’s largest financial institution in terms of inclusive finance, with inclusive finance loans over RMB3 trillion, now extended to more than 3.1m customers. The Group continuously increased efforts in surrendering profits to support the real economy, and the interest rate of inclusive loans newly granted to small and micro businesses in 2023 was 3.75%, down 0.25 percentage points from 2022.

Continued support of China’s corporations:

The Bank further enhanced support of corporate loans for the real economy. At the end of 2023, the Bank’s domestic corporate loans amounted to RMB13.23 trillion, an increase of RMB2.21 trillion or 20.01% over 2022, with the NPL ratio of 1.88%. Loans to infrastructure sectors such as transportation, electric power, and water conservancy maintained rapid growth. Loans to manufacturing industry amounted to RMB2.70 trillion, an increase of RMB459,637 million or 20.47% over 2022. Loans to private enterprises amounted to RMB5.40 trillion, an increase of RMB951,216 million or 21.39% over 2022. Loans to strategic emerging industries totalled RMB2.24 trillion, an increase of RMB768,129 million or 52.14% over 2022. Loans to sci-tech enterprises amounted to RMB1.53 trillion, an increase of RMB296,878 million or 24.13% over 2022.

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