SHANGHAI, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- "We are firmly optimistic about China's medium- and long-term development prospects and look forward to the broad opportunities brought about by China's continuous opening up," Standard Chartered's China chief Zhang Xiaolei said.
In an interview with Xinhua, Zhang, executive vice chairman and chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Bank (China) Ltd, described China as "the most important strategic market" of Standard Chartered.
"China is steadily expanding institutional opening up in the financial sector, and foreign banks are accelerating their pace to get access to various financial markets in China," said Zhang.
The country's sustained momentum of economic recovery and continued financial opening up provide the bank with huge development opportunities in both domestic and international markets, Zhang said.
The U.K.-based multinational bank became one of the first foreign banks that locally incorporated in China in 2007.
Over the past years, Standard Chartered China has been granted a domestic fund custody license to provide custody-related services to investment products offered by domestic funds and asset managers in China. It has also been given the approval to take part in the Bond Connect Scheme between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, as well as the Wealth Management Connect Pilot Scheme in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. It has also been designated as one of the quoting banks for the loan prime rate by the central bank.
Earlier this year, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd obtained regulatory approval to set up a wholly foreign-owned securities company in Beijing. Standard Chartered China was also allowed to participate in the trading of treasury bond futures in China.
Seizing opportunities in China has become one of the bank's strategic priorities. In the first three quarters of 2023, its China onshore and offshore pre-tax profit increased about three-fold year on year, reaching 1 billion U.S. dollars.
"The Chinese market has been the largest contributor to Standard Chartered's global network revenue for many years, which proves the effectiveness of our China strategy," Zhang said.
With high-end manufacturing, digital economy, green economy and other segments becoming the new growth engines of the Chinese economy, Standard Chartered China has taken the initiative to provide financial services for more new economy enterprises since 2016, in addition to serving clients from traditional industries.
"By 2025, the revenue from new economy enterprise customers is expected to account for more than half of all our enterprise customers in the Chinese market," Zhang said.
Regarding the Belt and Road Initiative, Zhang said that the Standard Chartered group supported a total of 131 Belt and Road projects with financial services last year, of which 40 percent met the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
With an accelerating pace of Belt and Road construction, the cross-border business of Standard Chartered China has seen steady growth.
Zhang said the bank would continue to promote RMB internationalization by exploring establishment of RMB balance sheets in Singapore. By taking advantage of the relatively low RMB interest rate, the bank would also facilitate more offshore RMB financing business.
"Riding on China's development and opening-up opportunities, Standard Chartered China has logged a sustained and steady growth, with several business segments posting remarkable growth," said Zhang.
Standard Chartered China will continue to focus on wealth management, supply chain financing, trade financing, unsecured loans for small and medium-sized enterprises, and green and sustainable finance products. It would also strengthen cooperation with online banks to expand its customer base, Zhang said. ■