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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China Licenses 4 Western Insurers

BEIJING -- China announced Monday, the eve of Prime Minister Zhu Rongji's visit to the United States and Canada, it had given business licenses to four more foreign insurers, two of them American and one Canadian.

The new also came during intensifying negotiations on China's 13-year bid to join the World Trade Organization, with Beijing's top WTO negotiator, Long Yongtu, set to hold talks with U.S. trade officials in Washington on Monday.

Xinhua news agency said the Chubb Group of Insurance Cos. and the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. of the United States, Canada's Sun Life Assurance Co. and Britain's Prudential Corp. would be allowed to open offices or set up joint ventures.

The decision to ease access to the tightly controlled insurance market was intended to "further restructure China's insurance mechanism and to open wider China's insurance market," the Foreign Trade Ministry said in a statement.

The statement did not say which cities they would be allowed to operate in. China now restricts foreign insurers to Shanghai and Guangzhou.