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On December 6, 2019, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) officially announced that the foreign ownership restriction on life insurance companies will be fully lifted with effect from 1 January 2020 (the Announcement). Following the Announcement, parties may start to submit applications to CBIRC for approval of equity transfers. This Announcement implements the government’s most recent 11 opening-up measures in the financial services industry in China (please refer to details in our previous publication in July 2019.
On the same day as the Announcement, CBIRC also promulgated the long-awaited 2019 amended version of the Implementation Rules of the Administrative Regulations on Foreign-invested Insurance Company (《外资保险公司管理条例实施细则》) (the Amended Implementation Rules), which will be further amended by CBIRC to reflect the final foreign ownership liberalization set out in the Announcement. Pending those further amendments, the key points of the existing Amended Implementation Rules are summarized as follows:
Subject to upcoming further amendments to reflect the final foreign ownership liberalization, the issue of the Announcement and the Amended Implementation Rules are very positive and encouraging signals for the insurance sector. It is expected that more foreign insurance capital will enter the Chinese insurance sector, which may ultimately reform and further develop the Chinese insurance market in the next decade.
Inevitably and like every sphere of normal life, existing dispute resolution proceedings, whether in national courts or arbitration, are already experiencing the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Where possible, hearings have been delayed or relocated. However, as the lockdowns extend for the foreseeable future, hearings will still need to be held. Many national courts and arbitral institutions are now alive to these issues and are looking at solutions, in particular technological ones.