China merges bank, insurance regulators to tackle risk

BEIJING (AP) — China's government has announced plans to merge its banking and insurance regulators into a more powerful agency to control scandal-plagued finance industries that are struggling with debt.

The plan to create the new agency was submitted Tuesday to the country's ceremonial legislature, which routinely endorses the ruling Communist Party's plans.

The ruling party has made reducing financial risk a priority this year following a run-up in debt that prompted global rating agencies to cut Beijing's credit rating. China's insurance industry has been shaken by scandals including the arrest of the top regulator in a corruption probe and some companies face questions about whether they can repay their multibillion-dollar debt loads.

The plan said the agency will be charged with "preventing and dissolving financial risks."