July 30, 2008 / 6:50 AM / 11 years ago

China regulator urges banks to welcome foreign media

SHANGHAI, July 30 (Reuters) - China’s banking regulator has called on domestic banks to cooperate with foreign media and to respond quickly to inquiries during the Beijing Olympics, which run from Aug. 8 to 24, in order to present a positive image for the industry.

The order was in sharp contrast to China’s securities regulator, which last week told fund managers to exercise caution in comments to the media while the Olympics are under way.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), in a notice dated July 19 and obtained by Reuters on Wednesday, told institutions to set up a 24-hour “fast track” for responding to foreign media interview requests and inquiries.

“No foreign media request for an interview should be turned down and every media inquiry should receive a reply,” the notice said.

It also called on banks to monitor news online and to have a favourable influence on public opinion during the Olympics.

The tone differed sharply from a July 24 notice by the country’s securities industry watchdog, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), instructing China’s fund houses not to comment on stock index trends, investment portfolios or any non-public information. (For details click [ID:nSHA197454])

China's slumping stock market has become a sensitive topic for the government, with a drop in the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC by more than half from last October's record high angering many of China's 100 million individual investors.

“It is very interesting to see that China’s banking and securities regulators chose two completely different media strategies for the same purpose: to protect the good image of these two very important industries,” said one commercial banker whose company received the CBRC notice last week. He declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the notice.

Chinese bankers said the different approaches seemed to parallel the different backgrounds of the agencies’ bosses.

The top banking regulator, CBRC Chairman Liu Mingkang, received a masters degree from the Cass Business School at City University London and speaks fluent English.

His counterpart at the securities regulator, Shang Fulin, served five years in the Chinese army before he was assigned to work for the central bank in 1973, and holds a doctorate degree from a Chinese academic institution, according to China’s Xinhua news agency. (Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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