Shanghai rises on global financial stage

By Andrew Moody | China Daily | Updated: 2020-10-30 06:43
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Visitors tour the Shanghai Stock Exchange Museum. [Photo by Wang Gang/for China Daily]

Zhu, from the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance and also the author of China's Guaranteed Bubble, an analysis of the importance of government support in China's financial system, believes the coronavirus pandemic has been a factor in Wall Street's recent China moves.

"It has restricted opportunities in Europe and the US, where governments have struggled to control the virus, whereas China's economy is already making a strong recovery," he said.

"The Chinese economy and financial markets are simply too big to ignore and still provide growth opportunities, particularly in light of the COVID-19 situation."

Sheng Songcheng, executive deputy director of the CEIBS Lujiazui Institute of Finance, agrees that the pandemic has not halted Shanghai's emergence as a financial center.

"The outbreak has not hindered the implementation of measures for financial opening-up in Shanghai," he said.

There has been speculation, particularly in the West, that Shanghai's rise will only result in Hong Kong becoming marginalized as an international financial center.

However, in the recent Z/Yen Group and China Development Institution index, Hong Kong, like Shanghai, also climbed the rankings, overtaking Singapore to claim fifth position with a rating of 743, compared with its regional rival's 742.

Wardle, at Z/Yen Group, said Hong Kong still has a major role to play and that China is big enough to support multiple international financial centers.

He said Hong Kong still holds a major advantage over Shanghai, as money can flow freely in and out and is not subject to capital controls.

"There continues to be advantages in Hong Kong, not least the ability to trade in the US dollar, but also to move money in and out easily," he said.

"Hong Kong also provides access to a very highly skilled workforce and a business environment which remains ahead of centers on the Chinese mainland."

Koh, at the Centre for New Inclusive Asia, believes Hong Kong still has the potential for a strong future even if mainland financial centers continue to prosper.

"Hong Kong is a free port with no exchange controls. The free flow of capital gives it a distinct advantage over Shanghai and Shenzhen as a world financial center. It serves not only the Greater Bay Area of China but also Taiwan and Southeast Asia."

He thinks that in contrast Shanghai and Shenzhen, as mainland financial centers, will perform very different roles.

"The Shanghai Stock Exchange, for example, could play the role of the New York Stock Exchange, and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange could be the Nasdaq of China, in view of Shenzhen's role as China's Silicon Valley and technological hub," he said.

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