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China 2011 insurance premiums up 10 percent: report

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's total insurance premiums rose 10 percent to 1.43 trillion yuan ($226.64 billion) in 2011 from a year earlier, state media quoted the country's industry regulator as saying on Saturday.

Xiang Junbo, the chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission said assets in the industry totaled 5.9 trillion yuan, without giving a year-ago comparison, according to a report by state news agency Xinhua.

In a speech at the end of a key financial conference, Xiang, who took on the job last October, said many insurance companies have not kept up with "the profound changes in the external environment."

"A number of insurance companies do not attach importance to strengthening internal management and innovating their products and services, leading to the deterioration of their abilities to compete in the industry," he said. "Some companies even flout the law, with no regard for cost effectiveness, in blind pursuit of...market share."

At the same conference, China's Premier Wen Jiabao urged the country to reduce risks stemming from local government debt and called for better regulation to manage the risks, although he described the debt situation as "still under control."

Previous such conferences have led to significant policy changes, such as the reform of the People's Bank of China, the central bank, and the establishment of the CIRC, the CBRC and the China Investment Corporation, the country's sovereign wealth fund.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee)

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