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FINANCE

After Fall of Chief Regulator, What’s Next for Chinese Insurers?

By Yang Qiaoling, Denise Jia and Dong Tongjian
Chinese insurers’ total assets had grown to 16 trillion yuan ($2.42 trillion) as of April, up from 6 trillion yuan in 2011, when the now disgraced Xiang Junbo (above) took over the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, according to commission statistics. Photo: Caixin
Chinese insurers’ total assets had grown to 16 trillion yuan ($2.42 trillion) as of April, up from 6 trillion yuan in 2011, when the now disgraced Xiang Junbo (above) took over the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, according to commission statistics. Photo: Caixin

During Xiang Junbo’s five-and-a-half-year tenure as head of China’s top insurance regulator, cash-rich or financially savvy private companies with no insurance experience were for the first time allowed to get into the business.

Years passed. Some of those newcomers are now infamous for what the Chinese government calls “irrational” overseas acquisitions, or masking their aggressive leverage with “universal life insurance” — essentially a high-risk fundraising tool.

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