BEIJING: A high-level Chinese government meeting led by President Xi Jinping has called for stronger oversight and better security in financial technology (fintech), state media reported, with the sector hit hard by a regulatory crackdown.

The government action has pounded some of China's biggest tech firms, wiping out hundreds of billions of dollars in market value since last year.

But with the Chinese economy hammered by coronavirus lockdowns in adherence to a strict zero-Covid policy, the government has rolled out a series of support measures, including a call for "predictable" tech regulation.

"Regarding large payment and fintech platform enterprises, Xi called for efforts to improve regulations, strengthen institutional weak links, ensure the security of payment and financial infrastructure, and guard against and defuse potential systemic financial risks," a readout of the Wednesday meeting from the state-run Xinhua News Agency showed.

The Chinese leader also "called for these enterprises to be better supported in serving the real economy," it said.

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The officials at the meeting discussed promoting the "healthy development" of fintech companies, it added, and said "China will tighten oversight" of financial holding firms and internet financial services.

Investors have been heartened in recent weeks by similar statements by the Chinese government, with some perceiving them as signals that the tech crackdown is finally easing.

Hopes also soared this month when dozens of new video games were approved, and tech stocks rose on reports that authorities were wrapping up a cybersecurity probe into ride-hailing giant Didi.

But regulators this month denied reports that they were discussing the potential revival of Ant Group's scuttled initial public offering (IPO), which would have been the world's largest of its kind at the time.

Ant Group, the payments affiliate of electronic commerce giant Alibaba, had its IPO canceled at the last minute in 2020.

Alibaba was later hit with a $2.75-billion fine over alleged unfair practices.

Ant Group is set to apply for a financial license as soon as this month, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.