The overseas activities of Chinese banks shift up a gear
中资银行加速海外扩张

开疆拓土 Making inroads-书迷号 shumihao.com

CHINA’S BANKING system, with $35trn in assets, is the world’s largest. Its four biggest lenders, measured by assets, head the global league table. Yet Western banks rarely come up against Chinese peers in foreign climes. That has fed the stereotype that China’s banks are either uninterested in global business or, staffed by staid bureaucrats and stuffed with bad loans, are uncompetitive abroad. A new study suggests that this portrait is wide of the mark.
中国的银行体系拥有35万亿美元资产,规模为世界最大。以资产衡量,中国的四大行在全球排名最前。然而,西方银行却很少在国外遭遇中国同类的挑战。这加深了一种刻板印象,即中资银行要么对全球业务不感兴趣,要么就是充斥古板的官僚和坏账而在海外缺乏竞争力。一项新研究表明,这样的描画错得离谱。

In fact the global footprint of China’s banks has grown to rival that of Western lenders. In June this year its deposit-takers, including some of its policy banks, accounted for 7% of total cross-border lending flows, up from 5% in 2015, and lent to 196 out of 216 countries. A recent paper by Catherine Koch and Swapan-Kumar Pradhan of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and Eugenio Cerutti of the IMF explains why the rich world hasn’t noticed: China’s banks reign in poorer markets that Western lenders either never entered or are now abandoning.
事实上,中资银行的全球足迹已扩展到可与西方银行相匹敌。今年6月,包括一些政策性银行在内的中国存款机构贡献了跨境贷款总额的7%,高于2015年的5%,向216个国家和地区中的196个放贷。国际清算银行(BIS)的凯瑟琳·科赫(Catherine Koch)和斯瓦潘-库马尔·普拉丹(Swapan-Kumar Pradhan)以及国际货币基金组织(IMF)的尤金尼奥·塞鲁蒂(Eugenio Cerutti)近期发表了一篇论文,解释了富裕国家为何没注意到这种扩张:中资银行掌控了那些西方银行从未进入或正在放弃的较贫穷的市场。

Chinese banks provide 26% of all cross-border loans to developing countries today, most of them in dollars (see chart). That is up from a fifth in 2016, and has risen since the pandemic. (Ms Koch points out that the BIS’s figures cover only countries that report to it, and suspects that the true share could be higher.) China’s share is still lower than that of European banks, which, though retrenching, account for 34% of cross-border lending to poor countries. In half of these places, though, its banks are now the largest cross-border lenders.
在提供给发展中国家的所有跨境贷款中,中资银行如今占26%,其中大部分是美元贷款(见图表)。这相比2016年时五分之一的占比已经提升,而且自疫情发生以来继续攀升。(科赫指出国际清算银行的数据仅涵盖向其报告的国家,他怀疑真实份额可能更高。)中资银行的份额仍低于欧洲的银行,尽管后者正在缩减这部分放贷,但仍占面向穷国的跨境贷款的34%。不过,中资银行在其中一半地区都是最大的跨境贷方。

Banks from emerging economies are typically reluctant to lend far away from home, perhaps because their own markets are still growing and the creditworthiness of far-flung borrowers is harder to assess. By looking at loans made by banks from their home base, as well as by their foreign subsidiaries, the researchers show that Chinese lenders are not so put off. In that sense they resemble banks from Europe and America, says Mr Cerutti, even though they are typically state-owned and their overseas expansion is much more recent.
新兴经济体的银行通常不愿给距离本国很远的地区放贷,这或许是因为它们自己的市场仍在发展,以及偏远地区借款人的信用更难评估。研究人员查看了各家银行大本营以及它们国外子公司的放贷情况,结果显示中资银行倒没怎么退却。塞鲁蒂表示,从这个意义上说它们和欧美的银行相似,尽管它们通常为国有,海外扩张也晚得多。

In another respect, however, China’s banks stand out. Cross-border loans tend to be correlated with trade and investment flows, which give lenders more information about foreign borrowers. The link between lending by China’s banks and bilateral trade is especially strong. But lending bears little relation to investment flows. The authors suspect that this reflects China’s capital controls, and the fact that its portfolio investments target rich markets.
但在另一个方面,中资银行很不一样。跨境贷款往往与贸易和投资流动相关,银行可从这些渠道获得更多关于外国借款人的信息。中资银行的放贷与双边贸易的联系尤其紧密,但与投资流动没什么关联。几位作者怀疑这反映了中国的资本管制,以及它的组合投资瞄准的是富裕市场。

What does all this mean for borrowers? The rise of China’s banks brings both risk and reward. One concern has been that the lending has added to some poor countries’ debt woes. In some places China’s banks are now important enough that, if a shock causes them to pull back, then a local credit crunch could ensue. But China could be a source of needed capital too. Strong inflows into the country this year mean that its banks are flush with dollars. If recent form is a guide, a chunk will be recycled into developing countries. ■
这一切对借款人意味着什么?中资银行的崛起带来了风险,也带来了回报。一个担忧是这些贷款加剧了一些穷国的债务困境。中资银行如今在一些地方作用重大,如果一场冲击导致它们回撤,可能引发局部的信贷紧缩。但中国也可能成为所需资本的来源。今年大量资金流入中国,这意味着其银行美元充裕。如果近期的情况可作为一种参考,那么其中的一大块又会被收集利用,流向发展中国家。