Bank lending and bank relationships in China: guanxi or commercial?

Wei Yin, Kent Matthews

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: China as a main emerging and transition economy has since 2006 opened up its banking market to foreign competition. Thus far, the penetration of foreign banks has been only moderate with around 2 per cent market share of the total banking market, despite the widely held view that foreign banks operate at a higher level of efficiency and that Chinese state-owned banks (SOBs) operate at a lower level of efficiency. The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between bank ownership and the lending behaviour and relationship banking that stems from the Chinese tradition of “guanxi”. Design/methodology/approach: Based on three bank types the authors construct a model of the choice of bank type and show how that model can be estimated using a multinomial logit. The authors assume that firms choose a bank type as a function of firm characteristics (Berger et al., 2008; Ongena and Sendeniz-Yüncü, 2011), deal terms (Machauer and Weber, 2000; Ziane, 2003), and industry classification (Uchida et al., 2008; Ongena and Sendeniz-Yüncü, 2011). Findings: This paper finds the existence of a close banking relationship of a “guanxi” type between SOBs and state-owned enterprises (SOEs). This is shown up in the form of better deal terms for the SOE. In the case of foreign banks the authors find that a foreign bank-foreign owned enterprise relationship exists but this is based on risk quality and no advantages in deal terms, which suggest a more commercial-based relationship. The empirical findings are that transparent and high-quality firms are likely to engage with foreign banks, while state-owned firms are more likely to engage with SOBs. Originality/value: In China, few studies have addressed the potentially important role of bank ownership on lending behaviour (e.g. Firth et al., 2008; Berger et al., 2009). The authors extend the analysis by distinguishing not only between foreign and domestic banks, but also between SOBs and other domestic banks. This research seeks to enhance the understanding of bank ownership, lending behaviour and relationship banking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-439
Number of pages15
JournalManagerial Finance
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Bank ownership
  • Firm characteristics
  • Firm-bank relationships
  • Guanxi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Finance


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