Shanghai rises on global financial stage

By Andrew Moody | China Daily | Updated: 2020-10-30 06:43
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The exterior of the Shanghai Stock Exchange. [Photo/Xinhua]

"The Chinese government moving toward a central bank digital currency lends support to the development of yet more fintech architecture," he said.

McWilliams, from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, also author of Driving the Silk Road, believes that because financial centers on the Chinese mainland are just emerging on the world stage, they can take the lead in some of the newer technologies.

"The single most important factor identified for determining a country's competitiveness in fintech is big data analytics capability, and China is by some distance now the world leader in this," he said.

Wojcik, from Oxford University, said the risk is that if China's financial centers became known for fintech and wanted to export their services, they could be subject to the same type of pushback that Huawei has encountered in the US and Europe over its 5G technology.

"China can definitely be the world leader of fintech development. Chinese fintech exports and international expansion are likely, however, to encounter problems abroad," he said.

The big question remains whether Shanghai can directly compete against New York or London as a major international financial center until its capital markets are fully open and money can flow freely in and out of the country.

Wojcik recognizes that, despite Shanghai's recent advances, this factor is a barrier.

"Chinese capital markets are growing quickly in size and depth, but their openness lags behind. China, with fully open financial markets, would be one (place) in which the government has much less control over the economy. It may take decades, or never happen," he said.

Zhu said there is the intent to open up further, but the current uncertain international economic environment makes this more difficult.

"China is continuing its push for RMB and capital account liberalization, but it is probably going to be a gradual and lengthy process," he said.

"I certainly do not foresee a fully open capital market in the near future, due partly to the pandemic and capricious international market conditions."

However, Sheng, also adjunct professor of economics and finance at CEIBS, is more bullish. He believes the events of this year and the relative strength of the Chinese economy, compared with many in the West, could prove a turning point for Shanghai.

"In the post-2020 era, Shanghai will march toward even higher goals for building an international financial center," he said.

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