The market for insurance in China is huge. With a population of 1.3 billion-that's 20% of the people in the entire world - China's insurance premiums are projected to grow from $60 billion this year to $100 billion by 2009 (see "Chinese Insurance Premiums," page 13).That's because between 1949-when the People's Republic of China was established-and the 1980s-when Deng Xiaoping opened the market to private insurers, there was no insurance industry in China. The government took care of the people, from the "cradle to the grave."

More recently, the Chinese Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) was formed (in 1998) and China was granted membership in the World Trade Organization (in 2001). As a result, the private insurance market-life insurance in particular-has rapidly expanded over the past few years in China, primarily in the large economic regions, such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.

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