Accounting developments in China: the progress of harmonisation
Cheng, Fiona Chung Chieh
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This research is an empirical study to ascertain the progress of accounting harmonisation in Chinese GAAP with the IFRS after the implementation of the latest 2006 ASBE. Three research questions are addressed and developed. The first research question aims to assess the progress of harmonisation in Chinese GAAP with IFRS. The second aims to establish whether the gap varies among different industry categories, and to further identify the industries with the most significant discrepancies between the two sets of accounting standards. The final research question seeks to identify the major items contributing to the differences in net profit and total equity figures reported under the IFRS and Chinese GAAP. The 2001 Chinese GAAP and the 2006 Chinese GAAP are evaluated against the IFRS, with the aim of providing a before-and-after comparison between the old and new Chinese GAAP. The final financial data used in this research comprises 2006 and 2007 financial reports prepared by the 47 Chinese-listed firms that simultaneously issue H- and A-shares to assess the progress of harmonisation in Chinese GAAP with IFRS. In general terms, the findings of this research indicate an improvement in the harmonisation of Chinese accounting with the IFRS after the implementation of the 2006 ASBE. Nevertheless, certain discrepancies still exist in the amount of net profit and total equity reported under the two sets of accounting standards. Furthermore, the evidence shows that the reporting of net profit and total equity discrepancies varies among different categories of industry. Insurance companies, the extractive industries, and property-leasing and development companies are identified as the industries that either contributed the largest reporting gaps, or produced the lowest comparable figures reported under the IFRS and Chinese GAAP. More specifically, the items that contributed to the discrepancies may generally being categorised based on three main causes. These are: a) the actual differences between accounting requirements under the IFRS and Chinese GAAP (treatment of policy acquisition cost and claim reserve); b) the specific requirements imposed by non-accounting Chinese regulations (treatment of policyholders‟ reserve, unearned premium reserve and safety funds); and c), the options of measurement methods under the two sets of standards (methods of depreciating fixed assets, investment properties, oil and gas properties).