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Chinese purchases of Hong Kong insurance surges to all-time high

[HONG KONG] Hong Kong's insurance sales to Chinese residents more than doubled in the second quarter to a record even as China's regulators took further steps to limit purchases of the products, which can serve as a way to sidestep the nation's capital controls.

Mainland purchases of insurance and related investment policies in the three months ended June climbed to HK$16.9 billion (S$2.99 billion) from HK$7.1 billion a year earlier, according to numbers derived from first-half figures reported Wednesday by the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance in Hong Kong.

That compared with the previous high of HK$13.2 billion in the first quarter.

For the first half of the year, sales to Chinese residents amounted to HK$30.1 billion, or 37 per cent of new individual premiums in the city. That compares with 34 per cent for the first three months of the year.

China has been progressively tightening the rules governing sales of Hong Kong insurance to mainland residents, part of moves to clamp down on residents seeking to move money out of the country and evade capital controls. 

Such flows accelerated last year amid a corruption crackdown at home and fears that the yuan would weaken further.