Chinese commercial banks' bad loan ratio held steady last year amid the government's strengthened efforts to rein in risks, data from the banking regulator showed Friday.
The non-performing loan (NPL) ratio of commercial banks stood at 1.74 percent at the end of 2017, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said in a statement.
Outstanding bad loans from commercial banks amounted to 1.71 trillion yuan (270.6 billion U.S. dollars).
The NPL ratio declined for the first time since 2012 to the current level in the last quarter of 2016, an encouraging sign for an economy plagued by piling debt.
"Risks in the banking industry are under control, and banks have played a bigger role in serving the real economy," the CBRC said.
The data also showed banks have extended more loans to help micro-sized companies and agricultural businesses as the government seeks to guide more money to the needy sectors.
Responding to potential risks in the financial sector, the government has stepped up efforts to correct irregularities in the industry, targeting high-risk activities such as off-balance sheet financing.