View from City Road: China cashes in on Hong Kong boom

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The Independent Online
China's embrace of a socialist market economy, complete with fully functioning financial markets, continues to amaze by its speed. Professor Liu Hongru, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, says that the Chinese authorities, fresh from a trip to Wall Street, will be testing out a handful of pilot international capital-raising exercises in the US this year.

They are also looking at the feasibility of gaining a London listing for at least some capital-hungry Chinese companies, most probably in the field of infrastructure, airlines and pharmaceuticals.

These pioneering forays into international capital markets will come on top of an accelerated move to exploit the boom in Hong Kong.

Already six People's Republic of China entities have raised more than dollars 1bn on the Hong Kong market and another 20 listings are planned for 1994 to slake China's vast appetite for investment funds.

Equally vast are the regulatory hurdles China will have to cross to gain international acceptance by the less cavalier investor.

The Hong Kong stock exchange, not necessarily a model of unvarying financial probity, is insisting that PRC companies' accounting standards, disclosure, shareholders' rights and corporate governance are at least as good as local regulations require for other Hong Kong-listed companies.

Professor Liu, speaking at a London presentation by the Hong Kong exchange, also underlined that the Chinese mainland stock exchanges of Shanghai and Shenzhen will remain local while Hong Kong, increasingly integrated with the Chinese economy, will become China's window on the international financial world.

London and New York have played their role in the world's economic development. The mantle may now be passing to Hong Kong, which may come to rival its Western rivals in size.

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