Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who oversaw bank bailouts during the global financial crisis, has different advice for China: Let companies fail.
"They can show right now they're very serious about dealing with inefficient state-owned enterprises as they take capacity out of the steel industry, coal industry and others by letting some failing companies fail," Paulson, who was Treasury secretary from 2006-2009, told CNBC's Squawk Box on the sidelines of an Institute of International Finance event organized in conjunction with the G20 meeting in Shanghai.
As Treasury secretary, Paulson oversaw a $700 billion government-funded bailout of U.S. financial institutions that were seen as "too big to fail" in the global financial crisis.
Paulson, who is also a former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, added that China needed to move faster to promote competition.
"Competition is about opening up to the private sector, which is the future, and it's about putting the state-owned enterprises on a level playing field," said Paulson,, who earlier this decade founded the independent think tank Paulson Institute promoting sustainable and environmental projects. "There's clearly room to move faster."
Last year, China issued guidance on reforming often-inefficient state enterprises, such as introducing mixed public-private ownership as well as pushing for mergers and share sales, but the market isn't always certain of progress on this front.