Chinese shares continued their sharp fall on Monday as concerns over the country's slowing growth and volatile markets sparked panic among traders. The mainland benchmark index, the Shanghai Composite, fell sharply by 8.4% to 3,211.75 points, extending last week's losses.
The sell-off continued despite China's latest attempts to reassure investors. Over the weekend, Beijing said it planned to let its main state pension fund invest in the stock market.
Under the new rules, the fund will be allowed to invest up to 30% of its net assets in domestically-listed shares.
The fund will be allowed to invest not just in shares but in a range of market instruments, including derivatives. By increasing demand for them, the government hopes prices will rise.
The Hong Kong Hang Seng index followed the mainland's sharp decline, dropping 4% to 21,523.57 points in early trade.
Over the past week, China's benchmark Shanghai Composite fell 12%, adding up to a 30% drop since the middle of June. The sharp fall sparked a global sell-off, with the Dow Jones in the US losing 6%, while the UK's FTSE 100 posted its biggest weekly loss this year of 5%.
Earlier this month, the Chinese central bank devalued the Yuan in an attempt to boost exports.
Elsewhere in Asia, the region's biggest stock market, Japan's Nikkei 225 traded 2.8% lower at 18,907.39 points in Monday morning trade. It marks the Nikkei's lowest level in nearly five months. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was down by 2.9% to 5,063.50 points. In South Korea, the Kospi index followed the region's lead, trading 1.4% lower at 1,850.56 points.
Over the weekend, the International Monetary Fund weighed in on the global sell-off in an attempt to avoid further market panic.
China's economic slowdown and fall in equities was not a crisis but a necessary adjustment for the economy, a senior IMF official said on Sunday.
It's totally premature to speak of a crisis in China, Carlo Cottarelli, IMF executive director representing countries such as Italy and Greece on its board, told a press conference, reiterating the international lender's forecast for a 6.8% expansion of the Chinese economy this year, below the 7.4% growth achieved in 2014.
On Friday, figures showed China's factory activity in August shrank at its fastest pace in more than six years.
This came after official figures showed the country's economic growth continuing to slow. For the three months to the end of July, the economy grew by 7% compared with a year earlier - its slowest pace since 2009.