China disposes of $289 billion of bad loans in 2019: regulator

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China disposed of around 2 trillion yuan ($289.11 billion) in non-performing loans over the whole of last year amid a national campaign to restrict high-risk lending, the country’s banking regulator said during a weekend meeting.

The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) said in a notice published late on Saturday that the total assets of the country’s shadow banking sector had fallen by 16 trillion yuan over the past three years.

It said it would continue to “dismantle” the shadow banking sector in 2020 and step up punishments for those that violate regulations.

The CBIRC has been trying to tackle growing financial risks in China, with dozens of small lenders under pressure as a result of economic slowdown.

However, the notice said loans to the real economy had continued to increase, reaching 17 trillion yuan in 2019, up nearly 7% compared to the previous year.

The regulator also promised to make more loans available to support the struggling pig farming sector this year, and would also introduce more green finance products for projects that support the protection of the environment.

Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Christopher Cushing