UPDATE 1-Insurer AIA first-half new business jumps on Hong Kong, China demand

(Adds background on Hong Kong market, details)

HONG KONG, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Asia-focussed insurer AIA Group Ltd on Friday posted a 20% rise in new business for the first half of the year, as it sold more insurance products in its main markets of Hong Kong and China.

AIA’s new business value, which measures expected profits from new premiums and is a key gauge for future growth, surged to $2.28 billion in the half-year period ended June from $1.95 billion a year earlier, the company said.

The company reported a 19% rise in new business from Hong Kong and a 34% rise in China.

The gains in Hong Kong market come at a time when the local insurance industry, which gets a large part of its revenue from visiting mainland Chinese, has been clouded by political unrest in the Asian financial hub.

China and Hong Kong together account for about half of new business growth globally at AIA, which was founded in Shanghai nearly 100 years ago and was the first foreign insurer to be granted a license in China.

AIA said its operating profit after tax rose 12% to $2.90 billion in the first half. (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan and Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Anil D’Silva)