China's debt risks 'controllable' but challenges remain: vice finmin

October 31, 2016 8:00 PM EDT

China's Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao, attends a conference during the 2016 IIF G20 Conference at the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai, China, February 25, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song - RTX28GNI

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The risks from debt in China are "totally controllable" but there are challenges that must be given serious consideration, such as the accelerating growth of corporate debt, state news agency Xinhua quoted Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao as saying.

The government had already adopted a number of measures to prevent and resolve corporate debt risk, particularly as it relates to state-owned enterprises, Zhu was quoted as saying on Monday.

Publicly available data, including from the International Monetary Fund, "reflect the fact that China's debt risk is totally controllable," Zhu said.

"Of course, challenges also exist, such as the recent phenomenon of corporate debt growth that is too fast, which needs to be taken seriously and (watched for) vigilantly."

Beijing on Oct. 10 unveiled guidelines for a plan to lower the country's $18 trillion corporate debt - now at 169 percent of domestic output - by allowing stressed companies to swap part of their debt for equity investment.

China's efforts to curb corporate leverage, especially among state-owned companies, are targeted at reviving a slowing economy.

International institutions have warned Beijing to stop financing weak firms, especially inefficient state-owned enterprises, which tend to crowd out the private sector.

They also say the government needs to allow more defaults to improve credit allocation and stop wasteful spending in the economy.

Excessive credit growth in China is signaling an increasing risk of a banking crisis in the next three years, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) warned recently.

(Reporting by John Ruwitch and Wang Jing; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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