Nov 25, 2020 12:53 PM

China’s Debt Defaults Are Set to Top 100 Billion Yuan for Third Year

Employees at the BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. plant in Tiexi, Northeast China’s Liaoning Province, work on the glass installation assembly line in May 2012. Photo: Bloomberg
Employees at the BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. plant in Tiexi, Northeast China’s Liaoning Province, work on the glass installation assembly line in May 2012. Photo: Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — China’s corporate debt defaults are set to exceed 100 billion yuan for a third consecutive year, underscoring the pandemic’s disruption of a government campaign for greater fiscal stability.

A surge in missed repayment obligations in the past two weeks drove onshore delinquencies to 104 billion yuan ($15.8 billion) so far this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The offshore figure is $8.1 billion, 2.1 times the total in 2019.

An effort earlier this year to tide the country through the coronavirus outbreak by opening the credit taps rekindled longstanding concern that the authorities need to act on increased stress in the financial system. With the economy continuing its recovery from the pandemic, policymakers have since moved to credit clean-up mode from forbearance mode, boosting defaults.


Financial regulators have vowed a “zero-tolerance” approach to violations in the bond market after a series of missed repayments by three high-profile state-linked borrowers.

The anticipated dial-back of stimulus measures will put more strain on defaulters to raise funds for repayments. A total of 172.6 billion yuan are due through November 2021, and more than half of that by March next year. Some 63.9 billion, or 37%, of upcoming maturities are from Henan’s Yongcheng Coal & Electricity Holding Group Co. Ltd., Tsinghua Unigroup Co. Ltd. and Brilliance Auto Group Holding Co. Ltd..


Refinancing pressure from reissuance will increase as a wave of regional state-owned enterprise bonds mature, which could boost defaults, according to Yewei Yang, an analyst from Guosheng Securities Co. Ltd. Credit risks will be greater for regional state-owned enterprises located in areas with weaker economies, heavier debt pressure and more reliant on land sales.

Bankruptcy restructuring applications dominate the reasons cited for corporate delinquencies this year. Seven financially stressed companies that are due to make aggregate repayments of 43.8 billion yuan — including Peking University Founder Group — have filed bankruptcy restructuring applications. Last week, Brilliance Auto Group, an automaker linked to BMW AG, joined a growing list of state-run defaulters entering a court-led restructuring.

 Read more 
Cover Story: How SOE Default Wave Shows State Bailouts Are Over

Missed principal and interest payments have totaled 34 billion yuan so far this year, constituting the second-biggest trigger of company defaults.



The technology sector led by Peking University Founder Group, the troubled business arm of a top Chinese university, has accounted for more than a third of the aggregate amount in default this year. Second-biggest is the cyclical consumer sector comprised of six companies led by Tunghsu Group and Brilliance Auto Group. Third are developers, including Tahoe Group and Tianjin Real Estate Group Co. Ltd., which prompted the formulation of the “three red lines,” or metrics that have to be met by companies in this industry before they can add borrowings.


Contact editor Yang Ge (

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