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China’s Capital Outflows Via M&A Are a Big Concern, Regulator Says

A hotel employee at a foreign exchange cA hotel employee at a foreign exchange c

China‘s forex regulator acknowledged that it has found Chinese firms and individuals moving assets overseas via mergers and acquisition deals, but officials said pressure on capital outflows is easing.

“In the past year we found some Chinese firms and individuals moving assets overseas via outbound investment, this is certainly a key area of concern for us,” Guo Song, an official with the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) told a Beijing news conference on Thursday.

But he said no “large-sized” capital outflow via fake trade deals has been detected by the supervision body so far, and China will keep up pressure on tackling fake overseas mergers and acquisitions.

Despite the phenomenon, pressure on cross-border capital outflows is easing, SAFE spokeswoman Wang Chunying said.

See also: Chinese Policymakers Square Off As Economic Challenges Grow

Gu added that the government will support “genuine” overseas mergers and acquisitions by Chinese firms, although rapid rises in outbound investment have had an impact on cross-border capital flows.

“SAFE hopes capable and resourceful Chinese companies venture into overseas M&As, and they are not doing so for face-saving or political achievements,”

Du Peng, another SAFE official, added that discrepancy between custom data and forex data is no proof that fake trade deals are happening, as differences exist in data collecting methods.

China will crack down on illegal activities to keep its foreign exchange markets stable, SAFE official Xu Weigang said.

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The regulator’s comments come just as former U.S. Treasury official Brad Setser raised the specter of disguised capital outflows in a Bloomberg interview published Thursday, pointing to a rise in the spending of Chinese visitors overseas as a possible indication of tourists taking the opportunity to move their cash.

More specifically, the gap between the increase in the number of Chinese venturing abroad and the growth in tourists’ spending could suggest that more people are shifting their capital by buying overseas homes, enrolling in life insurance, or opening deposit accounts elsewhere, Setser told the news organization.