The MSCI told China last June that it needed to increase access to its equity markets and fix other rules to win foreign investor backing for inclusion in the benchmark, tracked by $1.5 trillion in assets globally.
Scepticism China could satisfy the requirements deepened owing to unprecedented intervention by authorities during last summer's stock market crash. As shares slumped more than 40 percent in a few months, more than half of Chinese companies suspended their stocks to avoid the slide.
Over the past four months though, the CSRC has stepped-up its efforts to woo global benchmark providers under a new reform-focused senior management team led by Chairman Liu Shiyu, investors and people familiar with the discussions said.
"The CSRC had previously been pretty slow at working out liberalization issues," said Ivan Shi, head of research at Shanghai-based investment consultancy Z-Ben Advisors. "Everyone is more on the same page regarding market opening and the CSRC has responded to many of MSCI's requirements."
Last June, the MSCI and the CSRC said they would create a working group to address MSCI's concerns. Neither party has provided details about the working group.
Discussions were slow to start as the CSRC dealt with the market crash, said people briefed on the matter. Key CSRC managers also left, making it difficult to schedule meetings, and a CSRC roadshow to woo U.S. and European investors was postponed, they said.
But they picked up gear from February, said people briefed on the matter. One source said Shiyu attended some of the meetings. MSCI also fielded top executives and its global chief executive, Henry Fernandez, visited regulators in Beijing in April, three people briefed on the matter said.
MSCI declined to comment.