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China and Hong Kong: Can Shanghai be a new international financial center?

On 25 March 2009, Xinhua News reported China’s State Council has endorsed a statement to urge Shanghai to be developed into an international financial center by 2020 in order to keep up with “China’s economic influence and the Chinese yuan’s international status”.

The idea generates discussion in the Beiyouren Forum (http://forum.byr.edu.cn) on which city, among Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong will become China’s international hub. A mainland blogger, luoluokaikai, forwarded a post which states that Shanghai has a great potential to develop China’s financial services,

从外部条件来看,花旗、汇丰、渣打、东方汇理、荷兰银行等19家外资银行都不约而同地选定其驻上海机构为主报告行。当中国成了世界上主要的资本输出国之一时,上海就会自然成为一个国际金融中心。目前国外看好上海,这是非常可喜的现象。…上海自己的经济实力和她的经济腹地是香港都无法比拟的,这是上海最大的竞争优势。

From external condition, Citigroup, HSBC, Standard Charted, Banque de l'Indochine, ABN. AMRO etc more than 19 foreign-funded financial corporations have set up their primary reporting banks in Shanghai. When China becomes one of the major capital export countries in the world, Shanghai will naturally become the global financial hub. It is a good sign that the current foreign outlook on Shanghai is favourable. [….] Hong Kong is not competitive as the Shanghai’s economic power and its financial region. These are the greatest advantages of Shanghai.

However, a Hong Kong blogger, lu miguan argues that it is hard for Shanghai to replace Hong Kong status,

上海要做金融中心,到2020年,世事難料,能否真正的「國際」,以現階段的政治環境的話,可能只會做到北亞區或者是中國境內的國際級數。這是因為有兩個核心問題未能解決,就是制度與自由。…當中「政治」就踩中了中共的地雷,所以youtube最近不能夠在內地登陸。如果一個網站都不能夠正常上客任人看,這是一個國際城市嗎?是一個大都會嗎?連觀看的自由也沒有,怎能讓外國人願意走進這個地方做生意呢?

Shanghai wants to be the financial hub by 2020, things are unpredictable, it is still hard to say whether it can be really “international”, according to the existing political environment, perhaps it only can be the Northern Asian or the China’s financial center. Because there are two core problems unsolved and they are system and freedom. […] For example, Youtube cannot land in the mainland China because it steps upon the “political” land mill of the communist government. If there is one globally recognized website cannot be free for visiting, can it be an international city? A metropolis? There is no freedom in accessing information, how are those foreign investors willing to start their business in this place?

Another Hong Kong blogger, Eyrnnyes also shares similar views,

上海,要成為「真正」的國際金融中心,不在是否齊心,又或是國家政策是否支持,那在於人民幣是否可以自由兌換!一天外資不可把他們在中國資金,自由兌換成本國貨幣或美金,再自由地匯出中國,上海,一天也不可能成為真正的國際金融中心!那更不可能取代香港地位!又正如利世民君和某在香港、國內有頗大的金融生意A君說,一天上海股市,除了熊市、牛市之外,還有一種叫政策市(以前叫朱市,即前總理朱融基市)存在,上海一天也不可能取代香港,成為亞太區的國際金融中心!

Shanghai, to be the “real” international financial center, the success is not based on Chinese people's will nor the support from the central government. It is based on the fact that whether RMB can be exchanged freely! When the foreign capital cannot be freely exchanged to local currency or US dollar and export from China, Shanghai cannot be the real international financial hub! And it cannot replace Hong Kong! Same as the comment from Li Shimin, in the stock market of Shanghai, except for the common bear market and bull market, there is one called “policy market” (in the past call “Zhu market” because of the former Premier Zhu Rongji). So Shanghai cannot replace Hong Kong as the Asian financial center!

1 comment

  • […] A radioactive ball of Caesium-137 turned up in a Shaanxi province steel mill. Chinese Australian businesswoman Helen Liu is causing a stir for her suspiciously close relationship with Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon. America’s Yum! brand is buying 20% of Little Sheep, a Mongolian hotpot chain in China. Despite criticizing the IMF and advocating a new world currency, China announced today it is ready to contribute extra funds to the overstressed organization. China’s State Council urged Shanghai to become a global financial center by 2020, prompting bloggers to wonder whether it could really displace Hong Kong. […]

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