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Cities 'may gain from financial crisis'
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-04-16 07:46

Major Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Beijing could gain from the global financial crisis, which is reshaping the world's financial landscape.

Jiang Zhenghua, former vice-chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, made the comment yesterday while calling for more infrastructure investment to speed up China's urbanization amid the financial crisis.

"The global financial crisis has offered an opportunity to bring Chinese cities on the world's center stage," Jiang said at the launch of a report on China's urbanization in Beijing yesterday.

"I believe that Chinese cities will speed up the pace of embracing globalization," Jiang said.

The central government has already approved Shanghai's development blueprint to become an international financial and shipping hub.

Shanghai is the richest city on the mainland in terms of per capita gross domestic product and the UN has classed it at the same level of competitiveness as Portugal when the economy, health and education are taken into consideration.

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As other global financial centers such as New York and London are suffering from the financial crisis, Shanghai should seize the opportunity, Jiang said.

During recent years, the world's top financial institutions have set up offices in Shanghai. China has announced aggressive measures to open banking and finance to the rest of the world and Shanghai is starting its test of using the yuan for trading, settlement and clearing.

Beijing should strengthen its attraction as home to head offices of top multinationals given its position as China's capital, Jiang said.

The China Mayors' Association said in the urbanization report that each city, especially those in coastal regions such as Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Tianjin, should redesign its development model and global role as this round of financial crisis reshapes global development patterns.

"It's clear that we should embrace globalization and speed up urbanization but we need to rethink amid the financial crisis," said the association's president Tao Siliang.

Tao urged policymakers to bear in mind that China's manufacturing and export-dependent industries may not create as many as jobs as before. However, the service industry in China has not yet matured, he said.

Statistics indicated about 45 percent of Chinese live in cities now, and according to the national development program, 15 million rural people will settle in cities every year.

"Jobs are at the heart of urbanization," Tao said.