China's state-owned banks tripled their lending this year, even as Western banks were scaling back, becoming the principal engine of global recovery and life-savers for many international corporations. Beneficiaries range from Southwest Airlines to Dubai's Civil Aviation Authority to Foster's brewery in Australia, the Washington Post notes, in what seems to be an effort by China to diversify its foreign holdings beyond its vast trove of US government debt.
While the boom in domestic lending has been part of an ambitious economic stimulus plan, the amount of lending going to overseas companies has also doubled in the past year, the Post estimates. The number of Chinese banks that loaned outside the border grew from three to seven in the first nine months of 2009. "China's banking industry is operating well, without being affected by the crisis," says a Beijing banking analyst. "In contrast, the banks in the West lost a lot, and therefore their capacity to make loans was influenced and became lower."