According to data from the China Banking Regulatory Commission, Chinese commercial lenders had a net profit of more than 1 trillion yuan ($159.9 billion) in 2011, an increase of 36.3 percent from the year before.
They also reported net-interest income of 2.15 trillion yuan in 2011, up by 29.3 percent from the year before, and their non-interest income increased by 46.3 percent to reach 514.9 billion yuan.
Lenders' total assets reached 88.4 trillion yuan by the end of 2011, up 19.2 percent from a year earlier.
Chen Yongjie, deputy secretary of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said Chinese banks' net profit per capita is 12 times as large as that of manufacturers.
Although commercial banks still enjoy high profits, their rate of increase has fallen below what it had been in previous years, said Guo Tianyong, director of the Central University of Finance and Economics' research center.
"In 2005 and 2006, banks had a profit growth rate of between 50 and 60 percent," Guo said. "Some small and medium-sized lenders even reported a rate of 100 to 200 percent."
He said banks have enjoyed a near-monopoly and strong bargaining power. He said that has been the result both of the high barriers that stand before those who would enter the industry and the fact that interest rates have not been set in accordance with market forces.
"This period of huge banking profits might come to an end if we would encourage more players to come in and break up the monopoly and also further liberalize interest rates," Guo said.
Besides profits, banks have been eager to obtain capital, especially after they have watched their deposits drain and their equity financing plans postponed by regulators. Even so, it seems unlikely the China Banking Regulatory Commission will adopt higher capital requirements before the second half of the year.