November 24, 2017 / 9:52 AM / 3 years ago

Taiwan financial regulator aims to send official to China

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan’s top financial regulator said it aims to send a high-level official to a private sector meeting in China next month where financial supervisory issues will be discussed, as Taipei seeks to maintain relations even as political ties have chilled.

Taiwanese Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Wellington Koo speaks during an interview with Reuters, in Taipei, Taiwan November 24, 2017. REUTERS/Brenda Goh

Wellington Koo, chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission, told Reuters in his first foreign media interview since he took up the post in September, that it will send an official of “deputy bureau chief or higher” to the meeting, which he said would be organised by the private sector.

The last time Chinese and Taiwan financial regulators publicly met was in 2015 at an annual cross-straits meeting.

Those meetings, which began in 2011, have not been held since Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May 2016. Beijing suspects Tsai of seeking to push for the formal independence of Taiwan.

Koo declined to give further details about the December meeting or comment when asked if Taiwanese and Chinese officials had met in the past two years.

“There definitely remains a need for information exchange, this can’t be broken,” he said on Friday.

He added that while the FSC hoped to revive the annual meetings, that would depend on the political climate.

“We will continue to go through private sector events and seminars, and if they allow to send someone there, we will send a suitable person.”

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office was not immediately available to respond to Reuters’ request for comment on the prospective FSC official’s visit.

Koo, who took the job after Tsai reshuffled Taiwan’s cabinet in response to softening approval ratings, oversees the island’s banking industry and also its policy on financial technology.

Regulators around the world have taken varying positions on fundraising via digital tokens such as bitcoin, with Singapore saying in August that it would regulate so-called “initial coin offerings” (ICOs) if it judges them to be securities under its laws while China banned them completely in September.

Koo said Taiwan would look to emulate Singapore’s approach as it valued the blockchain technology that underpinned many ICOs and digital tokens.

“We cannot do what China did but are we going to be open to it and treat it like securities with value, futures or derivatives? We haven’t reached that level of evaluation.”

He also said that the regulator was concerned about foreign exchange risks facing its insurers with the Taiwan dollar TWD=TP hovering near its strongest level against the U.S. dollar in three years, as they have invested heavily in foreign exchange-instruments such as Formosa bonds.

To mitigate such risks, the FSC intends to raise the insurers’ reserve requirement ratios next year and also roll out new management rules, he said.

Additional Reporting by Philip Wen in Beijing; Editing by Kim Coghill and Jacqueline Wong

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