Chapter | World Insurance: The Evolution of a Global Risk Network | 2012

China: The Indigenization of Insurance

by Elisabeth Koll and David Faure

Abstract

The concept of insurance was introduced to China in the early nineteenth century by Westerners trading in Guangzhou and practised essentially among them. We argue that indigenization of insurance, in particular life insurance, was a slow process that stretched from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth. The establishment of the People's Republic in 1949, with a decided turn against foreign enterprises operating in China from the 1950s, and radical communism from the late 1960s through the 1970s, led to its eradication. It was revived from the reversal of the state's policy towards private business from late 1978, and has grown rapidly since. While insurance as a concept and product has been a big success in post-reform China, the growth of the industry has created strong domestic competition with foreign insurance companies still struggling to find their place. However, changes in the industry are also due to China's economic transformation, demographic changes due to an aging population and an economic agenda shaped by the state. As our chapter demonstrates, insurance companies and the fate of multinational competition will remain part of the state-driven agenda for the foreseeable future.

Keywords: History; Insurance; Insurance Industry; China;

Citation:

Koll, Elisabeth, and David Faure. "China: The Indigenization of Insurance." In World Insurance: The Evolution of a Global Risk Network, edited by Peter Borscheid and Niels Viggo Haueter. Oxford University Press, 2012.