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Foreign Cash Flees China As Investors Shun Autocracies

Overseas money is starting to pull out of Chinese markets after the risk of investing in autocratic countries was starkly highlighted by sharp drops in Russia's currency and securities prices following its invasion of Ukraine.

Market data shows foreign investors sold a net 38.4 billion yuan ($6.04 billion) of Chinese stocks and bonds in the January-March period, one of the highest such quarterly figures on record.

"Outflows from China on the scale and intensity we are seeing are unprecedented," the Institute of International Finance said in a report published in late March. "Russia's invasion of Ukraine may be pushing global markets to look at China in a new light." It said the latest capital flight is "very unusual" as other emerging economies are not seeing similar outflows.

The value of trading by overseas investors in shares listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange can be estimated through transactions in the Stock Connect channel between mainland China and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The net inflow of foreign capital continued until February, but flipped to a net outflow of 45.1 billion yuan in March.

Meanwhile, the outstanding balance of Chinese bonds held by foreign investors shrank by 80.3 billion yuan in the month of February, the largest drop since January 2015 when comparable data became available.

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