China banking regulator says property market is biggest 'grey rhino'

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s property market is the biggest “grey rhino” - a very obvious yet ignored threat - in terms of financial risks, given it is so deeply intertwined with the financial industry, the head of the country’s banking regulator said.

Guo Shuqing, who is chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) and party chief of the country’s central bank, made the comments in a collection of articles by policymakers on China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, the official Shanghai Securities News reported on Monday.

Loans related to the property market currently account for 39% of total bank loans in China - to say nothing of a large amount of bonds, equities and trust investments with exposure to it, Guo said.

“It’s safe to say that the property market is currently the greatest grey rhino in terms of financial risks,” he was quoted as saying.

Guo also noted that modern technologies have brought and will continue to bring big changes to the financial industry, with digital currency, cybersecurity and information security emerging as key challenges for regulators.

In response, Guo said the CBIRC would use innovative ways to regulate large technology firms to prevent risks and monopolies, while promoting their development, according to the report.

Reporting by Cheng Leng and Tom Daly; Editing by Toby Chopra and Susan Fenton