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The View from China.

The recent article "All Eyes on China" (August 2000) by Julia Chu was interesting reading for those of us who live and work in China's "immense, largely untapped market," even though it was directed to those contemplating entry.

It presented an overview of the major insurance markets in places like Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou and related the coming opportunities and potential benefits for insurers seeking access. The article attempted to chart out similar gains for the Chinese, but it did not spotlight Chinese insurers significant competitive advantages and dominant market share (90%-92% in Shanghai).

While China's market also presents "opportunities" that lie outside of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Ms. Chu rounded out the picture by giving her views on the regulatory, political and physical risks. Attention was also given to the financial and cultural obstacles that exist or could lie ahead. To its credit, the article presented some visions of the future with "symbiotic joint ventures," initial public overseas offerings of Chinese insurers' stock, and their gaining access to new overseas insurance markets.

Overall, these were well-thought-out and delectable ideas. We welcome this as a breath of fresh air.

Often viewed as far-off and exotic, China frequently reminds me of the similarities that connect her with the West. So, I would advise caution to anyone, but especially to those who aid or advise insurers in China, about treading on tigers' tails.

It's a particularly sensitive issue to suggest a "skim" or corruption by "destitute Chinese officials" or any governmental officer anywhere.

It would be far better to redirect insurers, brokers, actuarial and defense law firms seeking entry to examine their already existing strengths and experience with the "influence game." Hosting generous hospitality suites, making the right impression at the National Association Insurance Commissioners, and having access with key staff at insurance departments and those supervising court-ordered liquidations and rehabilitations can significantly add to a favorable outcome.

China is no different. Efforts must, of course, be customized to local business culture, society and politics.
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Author:Motola, Anthony
Publication:Best's Review
Date:Nov 1, 2000
Words:334
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