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Foreign Institutions Hail China's Pledge to Deepen Financial Reform
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China's pledge to deepen financial reform, which was made at the third national financial work conference that concluded on Saturday, has been welcomed by overseas financial institutions registered in the country.


"The conference, which was held at the end of the grace period for China's WTO accession, was of great significance for the nation to constitute an open, competitive financial regime," David Dollar, director of the World Bank Office Beijing, told Xinhua on Sunday.


Tang Min, chief economist with the Asia Development Bank Mission in China, said, "The strategies and principles set out at the conference will further crystallize the future orientation of China's financial reform.


"The financial sector, as an economic engine, should also make a readjustment as China continues its shift from solely stressing economic growth to building a harmonious society."


According to the two-day conference, China will continue to deepen reform of state-owned commercial banks and build a multi-layer, sustainable rural financial system that covers most rural areas and most rural residents.


Efforts will be made to expand capital and insurance markets, steadily push forward market-oriented reform of interest rates and seek more channels to use the nation's huge foreign exchange reserve that totaled over one billion US dollars at the end of last year.


"All these measures will have positive influence on the Chinese economy," said Dollar.


"It can be interpreted from the measures that the Chinese government is encouraging more non-state capital to flow into the rural financial market and is actively pursuing how to use the mammoth foreign exchange reserve in a more efficient way," said Dollar.


"The decision to open the financial market wider conforms with China's commitment to the WTO membership, which is conducive to creating a fair, transparent environment of competition," he commented.


According to Stephen Green, a senior economist at the Standard Chartered Bank China, the conference underscored China's determination to accelerate the opening of the banking sector. "From Standard Chartered's experience in emerging markets, a financial market that exhibits confidence in opening up will be conducive to both economic growth and economic security," he noted.


"Citigroup believes that the further opening up and development of the banking sector will provide wonderful opportunities not only for foreign banks but also for Chinese companies and consumers," said Richard Stanley, CEO of Citigroup China.


He added that Citigroup would continue to invest in China.


(Xinhua News Agency January 22, 2007)


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