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Financial Hub Race Played Down
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Local economists have played down the threat from other cities vying with Shanghai to be the country's financial center.


A recent report in the China Business Post quoted Tianjin Mayor Dai Xianglong, a former central bank governor, as saying more flexible financial policies are expected to be granted to its Binhai New Area. The area will also experiment with a freely convertible renminbi.


Binhai, like Shenzhen in the 1980s and Pudong in the 1990s, is high on the central government's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10). Under Dai, Tianjin has placed special emphasis on developing its financial industry and building the city into a financial hub.


Tianjin is not alone. Beijing has long been seen as a strong rival by Shanghai since it announced plans to become the national financial hub.


Beijing Mayor Wang Qishan has worked hard to persuade several foreign banks to register their new independent legal entities in the city even as more foreign banks have chosen Shanghai as the base.


But local economists are unimpressed by these moves by Beijing and Tianjin. Zhu Ronglin, a researcher with the State Council's Development Research Center who lobbied for special legislation for Shanghai's international financial center scheme, called the race among cities a "unique phenomenon" in China.


Zhu believes that overly scattered financial resources are not conducive to building a national financial center.


He Ying, vice-president of the Shanghai Finance University, agrees that excessive rivalry among Chinese cities to be the financial center is unhealthy. She has explained why it's so in a report to the State Council, but refused to elaborate on it.


He, who is also an advisor to the Shanghai Municipal Government, told China Daily yesterday that the ranking by the Corporation of London has clearly pinpointed Shanghai as the financial center.


In the study conducted by the Corporation of London, Shanghai was ranked the most competitive financial center on the mainland as well as a promising international financial hub.


However, she said other cities could also be financial centers, but at different levels, such as regional or provincial.


(China Daily April 18, 2007)


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