The two-day Lujiazui Forum, which ended Saturday, drew more than 700 top Chinese policy makers and financial-industry professionals to discuss how the city might transform itself into a peer of Hong Kong, New York and London. In March, China’s central government green-lighted Shanghai’s efforts to add fresh impetus to the development of financial services amid the city’s worst slowdown in decades.
[Shanghai's financial district] Associated Press
Skyscrapers and high-rise office buildings tower over Shanghai’s financial district in March. Chinese policy makers are exploring what regulatory changes are needed to make Shanghai a global financial center.
The Shanghai effort is a sign of China’s ambition as a global power. Sustained economic growth in China and its position as the U.S.’s largest creditor during a ferocious world-wide economic downturn have given Beijing new influence in determining global financial-system policy.
A higher-profile role for China is important, People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said at the conference Friday. He said the current financial and economic crisis “can’t be solved under the traditional G7 structure” — a reference to the Group of Seven leading nations, all of which are developed Western nations except for Japan.
An article in the Washington Post takes readers on a tour through Shanghai’s past, and onto the present World Expo fever:
Expo clock-watching would be a sport here, if Shanghai knew how to kill time. But the city, an economic renegade in the communist country, is dialed to high speed, trying to be the first to reach some undefined finish line. Drivers disregard speed limits and red lights; pedestrians move with the force of an undertow; futuristic-looking buildings materialize nearly overnight. Even the steamed dumplings are ready before you’ve had a chance to unfold your napkin.
While Shanghai fixated on the next horizon, I wanted to take a few steps back, to return to the past before catapulting toward the city’s future. But first, I had to drag myself away from that clock.
In the Christian Science Monitor, Jeffrey Wasserstrom argues that despite the lack of attention paid to the World Expo by Western countries in recent years, Shanghai’s show may be different:
…it’s not surprising that the 2010 expo hasn’t gotten much attention in the West. That’s too bad, because this one, in Shanghai, is unusually ambitious.
Obviously, it won’t match the Beijing Games as a symbol of China’s rising importance. But just as the Olympic opening ceremonies gave the world a glitzy tour of China’s past, the expo will offer an important glimpse into its future.
Five story lines are emerging.