The People's Bank of China is to be replaced as the regulator of the mainland's huge insurance industry in favour of a newly created body - the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), according to sources. The move - expected to be announced this week - forms the latest part of Beijing's drive to bolster regulation of the financial services industry. Beijing has decided to split the role of the central bank and create individual regulators for the industry's four main sectors - banks, securities and futures, insurance, and trust and investment. The creation of the CIRC leaves the central bank with sole regulatory authority over the banking industry, while the China Securities Regulatory Commission oversees securities and futures. The sources said CIRC would come under the umbrella of the State Council and be responsible for issuing licences and regulating the existing 23 local, foreign and sino-foreign insurance companies. 'The setting up of the commission has already received Premier Zhu [Rongji]'s approval. 'It is aimed at strengthening the risk management of the industry,' one source said. The need to reform has been highlighted in the past few years. 'Due to the insufficient and incomplete regulatory regime issuing of licences has been slowed,' the source said. 'The Beijing government hopes reform will help the country achieve a more complete financial system.' Beijing is understood to be concerned about potential risks posed by an industry deemed to be the weakest link in, and greatest threat to, the financial system. The insurance industry has been a highly lucrative sector, growing at least 30 per cent last year, another source said. The source said discussions over setting up a regulatory body for the trust and investment sector were still proceeding. Sources said the discussions would take longer and require more consideration in the wake of last month's demise of the country's largest trust and investment vehicle, Guangdong International Trust and Investment Corp.