China will encourage its banks to look for more acquisition targets in overseas markets, a leading banking regulator said on Sunday, Reuters reported. Speaking at a conference in Hebei province, Wang Zhaoxing, assistant chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said the strategy would improve the global competitiveness of domestic banks. Wang did not specify how this encouragement from Beijing will be manifested. Chinese financial institutions have already started buying stakes in foreign lenders. Last week, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China paid US$5.6 billion for a 20% stake in South Africa’s Standard Bank, while CITIC Securities agreed to invest US$1 billion in US investment bank Bear Stearns. In July, China Development Bank took a 3.1% stake in Barclays Bank for around US$3 billion.