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November 2, 2009

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Corporate leaders express confidence

SHANGHAI is on track to become a global financial center and should continue to liberalize capital markets, optimize policies and enhance its competitiveness to attract international financial talent - and those ideas come from people at the corporate cutting edge.

They were among suggestions made to Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng yesterday from the world's highest-profile executives at the 21st International Business Leaders' Advisory Council.

When the global financial crisis emerges from its worst period, Shanghai should take lessons from it to avoid mistakes made by Western practices.

More importantly, Shanghai should grab the opportunities when global investors seek emerging markets, council members said.

"Shanghai's relative calm and continued growth testifies to the strength of China's domestic economy," said Stephen Green, chairman of HSBC Group. "It also demonstrates the city's potential to become a world-class global financial center."

Green said Shanghai would be among the world's leading four or five financial centers in a few years.

In his view, a profound shift is taking place in the world's capital markets, with a significant focus turning from the West to the East.

"We believe that the current financial crisis, far from derailing the shift, will help to accelerate it," Green said.

"Against this backdrop, Shanghai has the opportunity to develop as an international financial center and will thus play a key role in the long-term economic growth of China and the world."

He suggested Shanghai should continue to nurture its capital markets, enhance tax competitiveness and education for professionals and improve the clarity and consistency of its legal system to reach that goal.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, in April endorsed Shanghai to be built into a global financial and shipping center by 2020.

Mayor Han said yesterday that the target was to make Shanghai a global financial center "with Chinese characteristics."

Samuel A. DiPiazza, CEO of professional services giant PricewaterhouseCoopers, said Shanghai was moving in the right direction to become a global financial center.

"It is right for the Shanghai government to be cautious," DiPiazza said.

"Shanghai should take one step at a time to guarantee all moves are correct because you can't turn it back."

Walter B. Kielholz, chairman ofthe board of directors at Swiss Reinsurance, said the global financial crisis had highlighted the importance of risk management and reinsurance should be promoted in Shanghai to enhance risk control.


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