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Shanghai, highly portent at becoming global financial center
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Shanghai has favorable conditions to become an international financial center, said an official at a forum on Saturday.

"Shanghai was an Asian financial center in the history. Developing for 30 years after the reform and opening-up, it has maintained several advantages," said Wu Dingfu, chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission at the first Lujiazui Forum.

The soaring economy and growing competitiveness would boost to its further development. In 2007, the gross domestic product of the municipality topped 1,200 billion yuan (about 160 billion U.S. dollars), and a two-digit economic hike has continued for 16 years, said Wu.

Therefore, the business hub has attracted many financial organizations. According to Wu, Shanghai registered 100 new financial organizations in 2007 to bring the total number to 604, including 109 banks and 261 insurance companies.

"Maturing financial market in the municipality and solid foundation of culture and talents are also helpful in building the city into a global financial center," said the chairman.

However, Wu noted that insurance industry in Shanghai still had a distance meeting requirements of an international financial center.

The income of insurance industry made up for four percent of Shanghai's GDP in 2007, but in Hong Kong and Singapore in 2006, the proportions had reached 10.5 and 6.5 percent respectively.

Shanghai sees no insurance company included in world's top 500 enterprises, whereas New York, London and Tokyo boast five, four and six such leading companies.

"Shanghai has great potential to tap," Wu said.

The financial forum, co-chaired by Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng and central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan that opened on Friday, is seeking ideas to make Shanghai a global financial center. Lujiazui is the name of the city's financial district.

The two-day forum invited such world financial leaders as Clara Furse, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the London Stock Exchange, James Wolfensohn, the former president of the World Bank and John Mack, chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley, to join panel discussions.

(Xinhua News Agency May 10, 2008)

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