Lending by the Taiwanese banking industry to mainland China fell 16% in September from a year earlier as economic growth there slowed and military tensions between the two sides increased, new figures from the Taiwanese government showed on Friday.
Including corporate lending, investments and interbank usage, exposure fell by NT$234 billion or US$7.5 billion year-on-year to about NT$1.19 trillion at the end of September, the Financial Supervisory Commission said, according to the Central News Agency .
That NT$1.19 trillion accounted for 28.9% of the industry’s net worth, the lowest ratio since the government commission began collecting data nine years ago, CNA said. The ratio was 30.2% at the end of May, CNA reported.
Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan, a self-governing democracy of 24 million that ranks 22nd in the worldnd largest economy and home to many global technology companies, including semiconductor manufacturer Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) and other Apple suppliers such as Hon Hai Precision, Pegatron and Lite-On Technology.
Following a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August, the People’s Liberation Army of China conducted high-profile military exercises around the island. Taiwan is one of the largest investors on the mainland, with about $200 billion worth of projects approved by Taipei authorities since 1991, according to the Taiwanese government.
“I don’t think there is any imminent attempt by China to invade Taiwan,” President Joe Biden said at a news conference earlier this month after a three-and-a-half-hour meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of a G20 meeting in Indonesia. China’s stocks were mixed last week on hopes of some easing between the country and its western trading partners after the G20 meeting.
The slowdown in Taiwanese bank lending is among other things a sign of weakening cross-strait borrowing. Interest among Taiwanese companies in reducing their exposure to the mainland was confirmed in a mid-year survey by the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. About 76% of the 525 Taiwanese companies agreed with the statement, “Taiwan needs to reduce its economic dependence on mainland China,” while only 21% disagreed. (See post here.)
More than a quarter of Taiwanese firms with operations on the mainland had already relocated some of their production or procurement, and another third are considering doing so, CSIS found. Only 31% said they didn’t want to move at all.
The financial sector made up two of the top three families to make the Forbes Taiwan Rich list this year. Tsai Hong-tu, chairman of Cathay Financial Holding, and his brother Cheng-ta ranked second with assets of $10.5 billion; Richard and Daniel Tsai, whose wealth stems primarily from Fubon Financial Holding, came in third with a fortune of $9.6 billion.
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