Type to search

Chinese Investors Ploughing Into Foreign Assets Via ETFs, QDII Scheme

A record 38 QDII funds had been launched this year for Chinese investors seeking exposure to foreign assets

With local stock markets struggling this year, Chinese investors have been seeking to diversify via ETFs and the QDII scheme, with interest in US stocks, as well as Vietnam and India.
SEC chairman Gary Gensler called for urgent regulation of the AI sector.


Chinese investors are ploughing money into offshore assets such as exchange traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds while local stock markets are depressed.

Concerned about geopolitical risks and the falling yuan, they have been seeking to broaden and diversify their portfolios via investment products with exposure to foreign assets.

Retail money has gushed into ETFs and mutual funds issued under the Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor (QDII) programme, which is one of the few channels for Chinese money to be invested abroad.

These inflows have left fund managers scrambling for more quotas under the strictly managed scheme.


ALSO SEE: Japan May be Near The End of its 25-Year Fight With Deflation


Record number of funds launched this year

Those investing in QDII products are no longer content staying close to home in Hong Kong equities but seeking funds that give them access to US, Japanese and even emerging markets such as Vietnam and India as the Chinese economy stumbles, analysts said.

A record 38 QDII funds had been launched this year until August 17, outpacing the 31 funds launched in 2022, Morningstar data shows.

“Demand for US stocks has emerged since late last year and has strengthened this year due to the lucrative returns. The Nasdaq ETF sold exceptionally well,” Ivan Shi, head of research at Shanghai-based fund consultancy Z-Ben Advisors, said.

The total QDII quota of roughly $165.5 billion is almost used up, and there is demand for more, fund managers say, as domestic investors seek alternatives to falling stock and property values at home.

Money has been leaving China’s shores all year, not just through QDII funds but also its Stock Connect and Bond Connect links with Hong Kong, complicating authorities’ efforts to stabilise the yuan and revive confidence.


CSI300 down 2%, but QDII issuance has slowed

The blue chip CSI300 index is among the world’s worst-performing major indexes this year, down roughly 2%, after tumbling 22% in 2022. The yuan is down more than 5% against the US dollar this year.

In contrast, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 4.3% and Nasdaq has jumped roughly 30%.

Asset managers are finding the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) is slow in approving further QDII quota, having already granted $5.8 billion in quotas in two rounds this year.

Tianhong Asset Management, which is backed by Ant Financial, launched three QDII products in the first half of the year, with mandates to track the Nasdaq 100 Index, overseas high-end manufacturing shares and overseas electric vehicles stocks. The size of its fund investing in Vietnam hit a record this year.

Tianhong, which is planning new QDII products, obtained a $120 million fresh QDII quota in July, less than it had hoped for.

“Many asset managers have felt they are short of their offshore investment quota recently and want more,” Liu Dong, head of Tianhong’s international business, said.

Becky Liu, head of China macro strategy at Standard Chartered Bank, reckons the QDII quota issuance has slowed and regulators may discourage overseas investments as part of efforts to stabilize the yuan.


PBOC scaling back on Bond Connect outflows

China has already asked domestic lenders to scale back outflows via Bond Connect, sources said last week.

Liu expects capital outflows could hit historical highs and says the situation is unlike the 2015 bout of massive outflows amid yuan depreciation “which was driven by those gray area transactions.”

“This round is mainly through legitimate channels. Rather than foreign capital selling China equities, this time it’s Chinese investors’ outbound investment,” Liu said.

The QDII programme, launched in 2006, remains a key outbound investment channel for mainland Chinese investors, alongside the Qualified Domestic Limited Partnership (QDLP) programme.

Hot demand has driven the combined size of QDII mutual funds to more than 400 billion yuan ($54.85 billion) by the end of July for the first time, data from the Asset Management Association of China (AMAC) shows.

By July, there were a total of 255 QDII mutual funds in the market, according to AMAC.

Assets under management (AUM) at Guangfa NASDAQ-100 ETF, one of the largest QDII ETFs, jumped 48% in the first half to 17 billion yuan, while some other popular QDII funds such as E Fund’s S&P Information Technology Index Fund and S&P 500 Fund had to suspend subscription earlier this year to control their fund sizes.


‘India could be the next China’

JP Morgan Asset Management, which runs a sizeable cross border business in China, said it has seen rising interest in offshore funds and is launching a new Nasdaq 100 QDII fund in September, after its Japan-focused equity fund more than tripled in the first half of 2023.

“In the longer term, we believe the interest is here to stay due to onshore investors’ global diversification demands,” Desiree Wang, CEO of JP Morgan Asset Management China, said.

Tracy Liu, an individual investor working in the information technology industry, invested in an India-focused QDII fund in March.

Liu said he was betting that India would be the next China and “the country is in a better position as it has maintained good relations with both the US and Russia.”


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard




China Limits Offshore Bond Purchases to Bolster the Yuan


Japan May be Near The End of its 25-Year Fight With Deflation


Toyota Stops Work at Japanese Plants Due to System Failure


China Slashes Stamp Duty on Stock Trades Starting Monday



Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


AF China Bond