The Standing Committee of China's national legislature has approved an amendment to the country's seven-year-old insurance law, according to state media. The revisions are expected to be a positive, but limited, step towards bringing China's insurance regulations closer to international best practice and World Trade Organisation rules. Although the full text of the amendment has yet to be made public, early indications suggest the changes will reduce the regulator's authority in setting insurance premiums. It is also believed the new legislation will give it greater power in investigating fund use by insurers. However, analysts have criticised the revisions, saying they allowed the mainland regulators to retain too much discretionary power and did not do enough to relax restrictions on the investment of insurance funds. The amendment passed on Monday by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress would take effect early next year, Xinhua said. The amendment would limit the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) to drafting insurance clauses and setting premiums for 'insurance products connected to public interests and new life insurance products'. In line with international convention, the revised law would allow a property insurer, with CIRC permission, to offer short-term health and accident policies. This represents a relaxation of a previous rule barring firms from underwriting property and life insurance at the same time. The new law would further enable the insurance regulator to inquire about insurance companies' deposits at financial institutions in probes of improper fund use, said state media. Another key revision is expected to be the relaxation of limits on where insurers can invest their funds, but market regulators would have wide discretion over whether, when and how investing in the stock market would be allowed.