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China's debt tops 300% of GDP, now 15% of global total: Institute of International Finance

File photo of a China yuan note. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters New Delhi Jul 19, 2019, 04.03 PM (IST)

A key gauge of China's debt has topped 300 per cent of gross domestic product, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF), as Beijing steps up support for the cooling economy while trying to contain financial risks.

China's total corporate, household and government debt rose to 303 per cent of GDP in the first quarter of 2019, from 297 per cent in the same period a year earlier, the IIF said in a report this week which highlighted rising debt levels worldwide.

The IIF is a private global financial industry association, based in Washington.

"While authorities' efforts to curb shadow bank lending (particularly to smaller companies) have prompted a cutback in non-financial corporate debt, net borrowing in other sectors has brought China's total debt to over $40 trillion - some 15 per cent of all global debt," the report said.

"Of note, onshore bond issuance suggests a big pickup in borrowing by local governments and banks this year."

China's economic growth slowed to 6.2 per cent in the second quarter, its weakest pace in at least 27 years, as demand at home and abroad faltered in the face of mounting US trade pressure.

Watch: China's economic growth slowest in 27 years

To revive investment and protect jobs, Beijing has been encouraging banks to lend more, particularly to struggling smaller firms. It has also unveiled billions of dollars in tax cuts and infrastructure spending.

In the first half of this year, local governments' total net bond issuance reached 2.1765 trillion yuan ($316.5 billion), the finance ministry said on Tuesday.

Chinese officials have said repeatedly said debt risks are manageable overall.

Story highlights

China's total corporate, household and government debt rose to 303 per cent of GDP in the first quarter of 2019, from 297 per cent in the same period a year earlier, the IIF said in a report this week which highlighted rising debt levels worldwide.