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China puts banks under the microscope to tackle debt problem

Beijing targets cozy ties between regional banks and local authorities

Zhongyuan Bank is among those targeted by China's crackdown on bad lending practices.   © Reuters

SHANGHAI -- China is stepping up oversight of its banks in an effort to curb excessive lending, walking a thin line between tackling one of the nation's biggest economic risks and hitting the brakes on continued growth.

Financial risks are a challenge that China must overcome, President Xi Jinping stressed at Monday's inaugural meeting of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs.

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