The late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping famously taught “crossing the river by feeling the stones”. Applied to China’s financial markets, it means gradual reform. The Stock Connect has been a key step in the nation’s decades-long financial liberalisation, and one of the most successful. Scepticism greeted the ambitious scheme when it was first launched in November 2014. The average daily turnover for “northbound” trading – buying by Hong Kong and international investors of select Shanghai-listed companies – was just 5.84 billion yuan (US$830 million), while “southbound” trading, by which mainland investors buy Hong Kong-listed stocks, was even lower, averaging just 757 million yuan (US$108 million) a day. But, the scheme’s eventual success means volumes have grown by leaps and bounds over the past five years. Southbound trading now averages HK$5.3 billion a day (US$677 million), equivalent to about 8.4 per cent of the total daily trading value at the Hong Kong exchange. Hang Seng gains, but mainland stocks fall on trade deal uncertainty Meanwhile, total turnover of northbound trading in those five years hit a whopping 16.5 trillion yuan by the end of August. A floodgate has been opened to what was a closed-off market for global investors hoping to ride China’s economic growth. For mainlanders, it’s a chance to own bellwether technology stocks in firms such as Tencent, and later this month, Alibaba, with its secondary listing in Hong Kong after New York. The world’s largest online trading platform owns the Post . The scheme’s popularity meant Bond Connect followed in 2017. One of its biggest prizes has been the inclusion of China A shares by global index provider MSCI for the past year, followed by the FTSE and S&P. Today, global investors account for 1.6 trillion yuan in China’s A-share market. But many restrictions still need to be lifted for the equities scheme to operate as a fully open market. On the mainland, day trading is barred by a one-day requirement to hold a newly bought stock. Non-mainland investors face the 10 per cent daily limit for up or down price movements in the Chinese main exchanges, making a quick killing impossible. Chinese securities regulators, though, are considering increasing the limit to 20 per cent and may allow newly listed stocks to gain or lose without curbs during their first week. Hong Kong stocks pounded by expectations Trump will sign bill But perhaps most frustrating for northbound traders has been their being barred from buying Chinese stocks on their debut when it is common for them to shoot up to the limit of 44 per cent. For mainland punters, a comparable source of frustration has been their restriction to those with at least 500,000 yuan to invest, making Hong Kong-listed stocks off limits to those with less resources. As China shares are being included on the global indexes, the time has come to make the equities market more transparent and investor-friendly. Investors, here and overseas, deserve nothing less.