US asset managers BlackRock and Neuberger Berman have submitted applications to the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) to establish mutual fund businesses in China.

BlackRock chair of Asia Pacific Geraldine Buckingham said: “We are pleased to have taken this next step in pursuing our onshore presence in China, a market where we expect to see rapid growth in financial assets.

“We firmly believe that China is one of the biggest opportunities for BlackRock over the long term.”

China has recently opened up its financial services sector to foreign players in order to increase competition in the sector.

The country has pushed ahead with the liberalisation plan even while grappling with the crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 1 April 2020, the CSRC removed foreign ownership restrictions in the fund management and securities businesses as part of the phase-one trade deal with the US.

The regulator noted: “Making solid efforts in every important opening up measure, the CSRC is fully committed to China’s overall opening up policies and further opening up of the capital markets.

“CSRC welcomes and will review applications from foreign investors in a law and rule-based and efficient manner.”

Recently, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley received CSRC’s approval to take majority stake in their China securities joint ventures (JVs).

Goldman Sachs increased the stake in its China JV from 33% to 51% while Morgan Stanley raised it from 49% to 51%.