BEIJING (Reuters) – Mergers and acquisitions in the Chinese property market will help firms lower their debt, Zou Lan, head of financial markets at the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), said on Thursday.

“Mergers and acquisitions of projects between real estate companies are the most effective market-oriented means for real estate companies to resolve risks,” Zou told reporters.

Chinese real estate firms have been under severe liquidity stress this year after regulators stepped up their deleveraging campaign against the bloated sector, triggering defaults at some heavily indebted companies.

(Reporting by Ma Rong and Ryan Woo; editing by Jason Neely)