China's $42bn (£21.4bn, €31.5bn) state pension fund would need at least $200bn in assets within five to 10 years to generate sufficient returns for pension payments, the fund's chairman said.
"[That] should buy us some time," Xiang Huaicheng told a conference in Hong Kong.
Mr Xiang said the National Social Security Fund, established in 2000 as China's de-facto fund of last resort, aims to achieve at least 5 per cent average annual growth. But this would still only partially meet the demands placed on it by the country's ageing population.
Mr Xiang's comments marked the first time the NSSF has set a target for its investments, and highlighted the magnitude of the looming problem China's pension system faces as its population rapidly greys.
Mr Xiang said there was insufficient data to accurately predict China's pension shortfall, which is expected to be in the trillions. He also estimated that the fund would have to be used to pay for pension shortfalls by 2035, when he believes the ageing problem will peak.
China opened the NSSF to international money managers for the first time last year, when it granted 10 mandates to manage NSSF's overseas investment. Mr Xiang said that there was room for greateroverseas investment, which accounted for only 5 per cent, compared with a regulatory ceiling of 20 per cent.