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Guarded optimism over 'Bond Connect' between Hong Kong, mainland

Market players in wait-and-see mode amid lack of key info

Howard Lee, a senior executive director at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, center, at the May 16 unveiling of the Bond Connect program to link the territory and the mainland. (Photo by Joyce Ho)

HONG KONG -- As part of China's push to internationalize its currency and fledgling capital market, a new channel for foreign investors to access its $9 trillion onshore debt market through Hong Kong was unveiled late Tuesday. But a long wait is expected until the so-called Bond Connect gets off the ground, with the sketchy implementation details and premature market conditions having created overwhelming uncertainties for market participants.

The new program, the latest step in the liberalization of the world's third-largest bond market, is predated by the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor program established in 2002, the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor program of 2011, and the China Interbank Bond Market direct-access scheme of February 2016.

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