SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, July 6 (Reuters) – Chinese investors are rushing offshore to make dollar deposits and buy Hong Kong insurance in a signal domestic confidence is languishing and that the ailing yuan faces more pressure.
The outflows highlight deep-seated concern about the state of China’s economy as its much-awaited pandemic recovery stalls. Consumer spending is flagging, the property market and stock markets are in the doldrums and cash is piling up in savings.
Brokers say individuals are responsible for the surge and it shows no sign of letting up, which analysts warn could put further pressure on the yuan as it teeters at eight-month lows.
Mainland Chinese holdings under a nascent scheme allowing investment in Hong Kong and Macau wealth products have more than doubled since the end of last year to 814 million yuan ($110 million). New premiums collected on Hong Kong insurance policies leapt a staggering 2,686% to $9.6 billion in the first quarter of 2023.
“More and more people realise they cannot put their eggs in one basket,” said Helen Zhao, an insurance broker busy helping mainland clients sign Hong Kong deals, citing Sino-U.S. frictions and pessimism about China’s outlook as motivating factors.
Hong Kong insurance has long been a channel for Chinese buying assets abroad, with the policies providing more protection than what’s available on the mainland, and attendant savings and investment products mostly denominated in dollars with a global remit.