The Competitiveness of State-Owned Commercial Banks in China
China has undertaken a series of comprehensive economic and banking reform programs over the past three decades. As part of the WTO agreement, the domestic financial sector is fully open to foreign investors from WTO member countries in 2006. To answer the challenges, the policy makers and management of SOCB have been introducing two major steps to improve the Competitiveness of the commercial banks: transfer the bad debts to asset management companies and inject foreign exchange reserves to capital. However, the qualitative study shows that the general performance of the state-owned commercial banks is unstable during this period. It is high time that the consequences and efficiency of the reform were examined on an objective basis. This research offers a careful and rigorous examination of the condition and determinants of banking efficiency and competitiveness in China, with the focus on the state-owned commercial banks. The key contribution of this study is to develop a comprehensive empirical framework to measure and explain the performance of the state-owned commercial banks during the crucial transitional period from 1998 to 2003. This research examines the banking market conditions on the basis of a synthesis of the traditional Structure-Conduct-Performance paradigm and other alternative hypotheses. The thesis reveals that the state-owned commercial banks still dominate in both retail and business banking markets. The interest earnings remain the dominant source of commercial revenues. Due to the special relationship with government and their operational characters in the financial market, the state-owned commercial banks are not sensitive to monetary policy adjustments. The competition from other type of commercial banks has been strengthening, but the impact is rather limited. The main contribution of this study to the empirical literature on the Chinese banking market is the employment of the Data Envelopment Analysis to measure the efficiency of the state-owned commercial banks at provincial level, followed by a panel econometric investigation into the differences in banking efficiency across the stat-owned commercial banking groups as well as individual provinces. The results show that the level of banking efficiency was generally very low and there was a significant extent of input surplus among the provincial branches. The source of inefficiency is different among individual banking groups. The econometric study reveals that the SOCBs benefit from the concentrated market structure and strong complementary relationship with their traditional business areas. The empirical results have also shed light on further policy measures to enhance banking competition and performance in China.