Chinese stocks have gained direct entry to MSCI’s global benchmark equity index for the first time, marking a milestone in Beijing’s efforts to draw international funds into the world’s second-largest market, the Financial Times reports. The move means mainland equities, known as A-shares, will next year be included in MSCI’s flagship emerging markets index, obliging the estimated $1.6tn of investment funds that track the index to buy the stocks. The index provider’s decision opens a new front in investors’ long-running debate over whether, and how, to introduce domestic Chinese securities into international portfolios. China’s equity and bond markets are the second- and third-largest in the world, respectively, yet foreigners hold less than 2% of each. Three previous proposals by MSCI to include mainland stocks had been rebuffed by the index provider’s stakeholders – primarily large asset managers.