The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission has approved Heng An Standard Life’s application to develop its pension business in China, marking the first joint venture to be given such approval.

HASL is a joint venture between UK-based asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen and China’s Tianjin TEDA International. The move is another major step in the further opening up of the banking and insurance sectors, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The CBIRC said it will continue its opening-up efforts and improve the business environment to attract more qualified foreign banking and insurance companies to participate in the domestic financial market.

In parallel, the regulator also approved ACE Limited’s proposal to increase its holdings in Huatai Insurance Co. of China and AIA Hong Kong’s application to join a pilot program which would allow it to conduct businesses in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area.

Since the beginning of the year the CBIRC has passed eight proposals from foreign-owned banks and insurers to establish new provincial branches in China, including Singapore United Overseas Bank’s Zhongshan branch in Guangdong province, the report said.