China has quietly ordered banks to freeze their lending through the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, marking the latest in a series of measures to keep investment from running out of control.
The newspaper cited unnamed bankers as saying that they were canceling loans and credit lines with businesses and individuals in order to comply with the order.
It cited an official with the China Banking Regulatory Commission as confirming that local and Chinese subsidiaries of foreign banks had been requested to ensure that their outstanding loans at the end of the year did not exceed their Oct. 31 levels.
The move was "guidance aimed at supporting the macro-control measures being implemented", it quoted the official as saying.
Authorities routinely clamp down on bank lending in the final quarter of the year, but the order to freeze lending at the levels of the end of October are unusually stern.
Banks issued just 136.1 billion yuan (US$18.3 billion) in new domestic-currency loans in October, less than half the amount in September, but the overall stock of yuan loans was still up 17.7 percent from a year earlier.