Oct 17, 2020 04:07 PM

China State Firms’ Assets Grow Even as Government Presses for Lighter Debt

What’s new: The assets of China’s state-owned enterprises (SOE) outside the financial industry grew 11.2% last year even as the State Council pledged to push ahead with mixed-ownership reform and accelerate restructuring in the sector amid debt concerns.

China’s nonfinancial SOEs had 233.9 trillion yuan ($34.9 trillion) in assets at the end of last year, according to the latest annual review (link in Chinese) of the sector that the State Council submitted to the national legislature Thursday. The sector had total liabilities of 149.8 trillion yuan, giving it a liability-to-asset ratio of 64%, nearly unchanged from the end of 2018.

State-owned financial enterprises held 293.2 trillion yuan in total assets at the end of last year, up 10.9% year-on-year, the report showed. Their total liabilities rose 10.4% to 262.5 trillion yuan, leaving them with a liability-to-asset ratio of 89.5%.

What’s the background: China has been accelerating its push to reform SOEs, reducing leverage and taking other steps amid concerns about financial risks, across both centrally administered SOEs and local financial institutions.

Earlier this year, the Chinese government fleshed out a 2018 policy on improving management of its state-owned financial capital. But many have voiced concerns about thorny issues in implementing the policy.

Related: In Depth: Managing China’s $37 Trillion of Financial SOE Assets Easier Said Than Done

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use. To read the full Caixin article in Chinese, click here.

Contact reporter Tang Ziyi ( and editor Michael Bellart (

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